BERLIN (Reuters) – German doctors have posed naked online to protest a shortage of protective masks and gowns, which they say puts them at greater risk of catching the coronavirus.

The health workers’ nude pictures, with carefully positioned props like books and flowers to conceal their private parts, appear on a website urging politicians to ensure doctors and clinics have enough protective gear.

“I learned how to stitch wounds, why do I now have to learn how to stitch masks?” reads a placard held by a female doctor with a stethoscope and a red mask in one photo.

With just over 156,000 confirmed cases and an official death toll of 5,900, Germany has withstood the pandemic much better than the United States, Italy, Spain and France.

But just like those countries, it has suffered from a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE).

The naked doctors said that outpatient and general practice care for COVID-19 patients was as important as hospital care, putting them on the frontline in the fight to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

They said their protest was inspired by Alain Colombie, a French doctor who last month posted nude pictures of himself to protest the lack of protective equipment.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government wants to provide financial assistance to producers of protective equipment and has ramped up its orders for PPE abroad. A German military plane brought 10 million medical masks from China on Monday.

The Finance Ministry has made available an additional 8 billion euros ($8.7 billion) for medical protection gear to help hospitals and doctors contain the spread of the coronavirus.

German states have made wearing a mask compulsory on public transport and in shops.

(Writing by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)