“Nobody had the guts to take the lead and announce unpopular measures,” said Uwe Janssens, who heads the intensive care department at the St. Antonius hospital in Eschweiler, west of Cologne.

Germany is poised to pass the mark of 100,000 deaths from COVID-19 this week, a somber milestone that several of its neighbors crossed months ago but which Western Europe’s most populous nation had hoped to avoid, AP reports.

Discipline, a robust health care system and the rollout of multiple vaccines — one of them homegrown — were meant to stave off a winter surge of the kind that hit Germany last year.

In practice, Germans faced a confusing array of pandemic rules, lax enforcement and a national election — followed by a drawn-out government transition during which senior politicians dangled the prospect of further lifting restrictions even as the infection rate rose.

“Nobody had the guts to take the lead and announce unpopular measures,” said Uwe Janssens, who heads the intensive care department at the St. Antonius hospital in Eschweiler, west of Cologne.

“This lack of leadership is the reason we are here now,” he said.

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