The country’s defence minister said “we have called on all reservists, especially those with medical experience” to put their names down for the fight against the viral disease which has killed 28 people in Germany. On Tuesday Poland’s decision to close its borders led to colossal traffic jams in eastern Germany. Truck drivers found themselves stuck in queues stretching up to 25 miles or more.
The German government fears the crisis, which has spread to 164 countries and territories globally, will hit Europe’s largest economy hard.
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said the Bundeswehr stand ready to alleviate transport shortages if the situation worsens.
The defence minister told the Financial Times: “We have called on all reservists, especially those with medical experience, to register with us.
“We are providing healthcare professionals wherever they are needed.
“If we have transport problems, because so many truck-drivers are held up at the borders and are no longer available, the Bundeswehr has vehicles and drivers who can take on the work to supply the population.”
Berlin fears disruption to travel caused by the closure of the 290-mile border with Poland will mean food and other essential items may not be delivered to where they are needed.
Earlier this week delivery drivers had to wait up to 18 hours to be allowed into Poland through the Jedrzychowice crossing.
And vehicles heading from the Czech Republic into Poland were held for 15 hours at the Slone crossing.
Even in such difficult and unpredictable circumstances, deploying soldiers onto the streets of Germany is likely to be seen as a controversial move by Mrs Merkel, given the country’s dark past.
Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer said some of the 184,000 soldiers in the Bundeswehr could be sent out to protect buildings and direct traffic if police officers are struck down by coronavirus.
Germany’s armed forces have also put out a call for reservist nurses, paramedics and laboratory assistances to come forward to work.
Troops have also been deployed in Italy to help communities cope with the epidemic.
In the northern Italian city of Bergamo, army trucks were filmed rolling in to transport the dead as the crematorium is full.
The wealthy city is one of the worse affected by the coronavirus crisis in the Lombardy region.
Bergamo has recorded at least 93 deaths related to the virus.
A spokesperson for the local authority said: “The crematorium of Bergamo, working at full capacity, 24 hours a day, can cremate 25 dead.
“It is clear that it could not stand up to the numbers of the past few days.”