Germany: Covid cases near 5million as country ‘faces another lockdown’

·3-min read
People walking next to the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Tuesday  (Getty Images)
People walking next to the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Tuesday (Getty Images)

Germany reported its second highest number of new coronavirus cases on Friday amid fears the country could be heading for another lockdown if vaccinations do not quickly accelerate.

The Robert Koch Institute revealed a further 48,640 infections have been reported over the most recent 24-hour period, with 191 more Covid deaths.

It came a day after the country’s daily cases soared to a record 50,196. Nearly 5million Covid infections have now been reported in Germany.

The seven-day incidence rate has jumped to 263.7 per 100,000 population - with four districts now seeing rates in excess of 1,000.

On Wednesday, Christian Drosten, the head of virology at Berlin’s Charite Hospital, said of the situation at many hospital intensive care units across the country: “We have a real emergency situation right now, we have to do something right now.”

Government officials have repeatedly said they do not intend to impose lockdowns and have instead appealed to people to get vaccinated.

Germany has a caretaker national government following a September federal election.

The parties that are expected to form the next government plan to introduce legislation this week that would allow a declaration since March 2020 of an “epidemic situation of national scope” to expire at the end of the month and provide a new legal framework for instituting coronavirus measures.

As during other periods of the pandemic, the country has a patchwork of regional rules.

Most places restrict access to many indoor facilities and events to people who have been vaccinated against the virus, have recovered from Covid-19 or recently received negative test results - with the latter category now excluded in some areas. However, the rules are often laxly enforced.

Several hospitals have said in recent days that they are again working at their limits and have intensive care units so full of Covid patients that they cannot admit new patients at the moment.

The Charite hospital said on Tuesday it had to cancel planned surgeries due to the number of staff members caring for people with Covid. Authorities have said most of the latest patients are unvaccinated.

About 67 per cent of Germany’s population of 83 million is fully vaccinated, according to official figures. The government has not made vaccines mandatory for any professional group.

Mr Drosten said he expects “a very strenuous winter” if vaccinations do not pick up quickly.

“We probably need to control infection activity again through contact measures - not probably, but certainly,” he said.

“We’re in a bad situation, we have 15 million people who could have been vaccinated and should have been vaccinated,” Mr Drosten said.

Since the start of the pandemic, 97,389 people have died with Covid-19 in Germany, according to official figures.

While Germany’s Covid infection rate has been skyrocketing in recent days, it remains below the UK’s, which on Wednesday stood at 379.4 cases per 100,000 population. However it has been steadily falling since towards the end of October. On Thursday the UK reported 42,408 new Covid cases and 195 deaths.

Around 68 per cent of the UK population is fully vaccinated against the disease.

The pandemic is on the rise across much of Europe. The Netherlands was on Friday reported to be about to impose Western Europe’s first partial lockdown since the summer this weekend.

Bars, restaurants and non-essential stores will be ordered to close at 7pm for at least three weeks starting on Saturday, Dutch broadcaster NOS said citing government sources.

Meanwhile, Austria is set to introduce a lockdown for millions of people who are not fully vaccinated, after record infections were recorded.

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