Germany urgently needs a two-week lockdown, faster vaccinations and compulsory tests at schools to break a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the DIVI association for intensive and emergency medicine was quoted as saying on Thursday.
Christian Karagiannidis, the DIVI's scientific head, said about 1,000 additional patients had ended up in intensive care since the middle of March. On Wednesday, 3,680 people were in intensive care in Germany, DIVI data show.
"If this rate continues, we will reach the regular capacity limit in less than four weeks," he told the Rheinische Post daily. "We are not overexaggerating. Our warnings are driven by the figures."
Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing growing criticism for failing to spell out a plan to reverse rising coronavirus infections in Germany and blaming uncooperative state premiers for an increasingly chaotic management of the crisis.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose 24,300 to 2.833 million on Thursday, the biggest increase since Jan. 14. The reported death toll rose by 201 to 76,543.
The number of cases per 100,000 in the last seven days, which the government has used as a key metric to decide on lockdown steps, rose to 134 from 132 on Wednesday and up from 113 a week ago.
Karagiannidis called for a hard lockdown for two weeks, compulsory tests at schools twice a week and much faster shots at vaccination centres and doctors' practices.
Bavaria's Health Minister Klaus Holetschek told ARD television he would consider introducing compulsory testing for teachers and pupils, noting that the willingness to get tested voluntarily has not turned out to be as high as he expected.
The premiers of two southern German states badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic urged leaders in the rest of the country on Wednesday to reintroduce tougher lockdown measures to try to contain the third wave of infections.