German general to head taskforce in fighting coronavirus
Most important task of crisis team is to push ahead with vaccination campaign as much as possible, Merkel spokesman says
A German general will lead a crisis team to fight COVID-19 amid the country's dramatic pandemic situation and the worrying new coronavirus variant Omicron, a spokesman for outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday.
"This crisis staff is expected to assume the task in the near-term. The most important task of the crisis team is to push ahead with the vaccination campaign as much as possible," government spokesperson Steffen Seibert told journalists in Berlin.
According to Free Democratic Party (FDP) leader Christian Lindner, who will be the incoming vice-chancellor, the crisis staff will begin its mandate this week. This was also confirmed by Social Democratic Party co-chair Saskia Esken, who told Munich-based BR broadcaster that the crisis team would start "at the beginning of this week."
Esken expressed optimism that the FDP would also support stricter pandemic measures. They are completely in line with the fact that everything must now be done to protect the health of citizens as well as healthcare workers in intensive care units.
According to a report by the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Maj. Gen. Carsten Breuer is tipped to head the management of the crisis staff. The 56-year-old is the commander of the Bundeswehr (German army) Territorial Tasks Command, which is responsible for domestic operations.
The new variant has sparked major concern in Germany, which is grappling to contain a fourth wave, with a rapid surge in COVID-19 cases.
The outgoing German government has repeatedly urged its citizens to get vaccinated as quickly as possible in a bid to stem the further spread of the deadly virus.
More than 100,000 people have died in Germany since the outbreak of the coronavirus in March 2020.