Germany sees rise in coronavirus cases, studies new restrictions
Berlin Germany’s disease control agency reported 52,826 cases of the new coronavirus on Wednesday – a number that nearly doubled in two weeks – prompting calls for new measures to curb the country’s steadily rising infections.
The Robert Koch Institute said that 294 people died in Germany due to COVID-19 in the last day, bringing the number of deaths due to the epidemic in the country to 98,274. The number of infections recorded since the beginning of the epidemic has reached nearly 5.13 million.
Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel said: “The current epidemiological situation in Germany is tragic, and I cannot say it in any other way. The fourth wave is hitting our country with full force.”
The World Health Organization also said on Tuesday that Germany, along with Russia and Britain, are the countries with the most new cases in Europe.
The three political parties negotiating to form the next German government have agreed on a series of public health measures to be discussed by parliament on Thursday, German news agency dpa reported.
They include stricter anti-virus rules in the workplace and a sharp increase in penalties for forging vaccine passports or test certificates to allow up to five years in prison for professional gangs selling such counterfeits, according to the German news agency dpa. Employees will also have the right to work from home again, wherever possible.
Infections have surged in recent weeks, especially among unvaccinated people, with southern and eastern Germany worst affected.
The Meissen region, near Dresden, has recorded nearly 1,305 new cases per 100,000 residents in the past week. The state of Saxony, where Meissen is located, plans to introduce new rules for social distancing and require people to show vaccine passports or recovery certificates to enter all stores except supermarkets and pharmacies.
Saxony has the lowest vaccination rate in Germany, with 57.6% of the population fully vaccinated compared to the national average of 67.7%
Merkel plans to meet Thursday with the governors of Germany’s 16 states to coordinate the country’s response to the latest surge in infections.
“The meeting was delayed,” Merkel said, adding that she hoped officials would agree on a threshold to impose additional measures that take into account the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized.
“It would be disastrous to act only when the intensive care units are full, because then it will be too late,” she said in a speech to mayors from all over Germany.
Her potential successor, current Finance Minister Olaf Schulz of the centre-left Social Democrats, has urged people who have not yet been vaccinated to do so.
“This is the best protection against infection,” he told reporters. “We can see that now in intensive care units.”
German Health Minister Jens Spahn has called on doctors not to wait for at least six months before giving patients a booster vaccine.
Meanwhile, authorities in neighboring Austria said travelers will need to show a negative PCR test when entering the country; Previously, cheaper lateral flow tests were allowed. The Alpine country on Monday implemented a nationwide lockdown for unvaccinated people who have not recently contracted COVID-19.
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