The head of Germany’s disease control agency said on Friday the country is on a “nationwide state of emergency” because of a surging coronavirus infection.

Lothar Wieler, the head of the Robert Koch Institute, explained the state of emergency is needed since regular medical care cannot be guaranteed anymore in some parts of the country because hospitals and intensive care wards are overstretched.

To help COVID patients, the German airforce is now preparing to help transfer patients to clinics with free beds.

“All of Germany is one big outbreak,” Wieler told reporters.

“This is a nationwide state of emergency. We need to pull the emergency brake,” Wieler added.

To stop the soaring COVID cases he called for urgent additional measures to tackle the rise in COVID-19 cases, which topped 50,000 for the third day running.

The Robert Koch Institute also reported 201 further deaths, taking the toll to 98,739 since the start of the outbreak.

Meanwhile, on the same day, the upper house of parliament approved new measures to control the outbreak proposed by the center-left alliance that emerged after the Sept. 26 national election.

The measures include requirements for people to prove they are vaccinated, recently recovered from COVID-19, or have tested negative for the virus in order to access communal workplaces or public transport.

Germany’s current health minister, Jens Spahn, also on Friday called for a “national common effort” to respond to the rising case numbers.

“In the short term we won’t manage to break the wave (of infections) with vaccinations and booster shots alone,” Spahn said.

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