German cases hit fresh record as fourth wave spreads in Europe
Germany reported record Covid-19 infections for a second straight day, as a fourth wave of the pandemic hits Europe and threatens to overwhelm hospitals in some hot spots.
Cases increased by 37,120 on Thursday, while the seven-day incidence rate climbed to 169.9, exceeding the peak reached during the third wave in the spring, according to the latest data from the RKI public-health institute.
“All alarm signals are showing red,” Michael Kretschmer - the premier of the eastern state of Saxony, which has one of Germany’s most severe outbreaks - said Friday. “Urgent action is needed.”
The surge prompted Chancellor Angela Merkel to express deep concern about the course of the pandemic heading into the winter. It also threatens to interfere with coalition talks led by Olaf Scholz to form a new government after his Social Democratic Party won September’s national election.
Germany’s spike is indicative of issues across Europe, where infections are surging as restrictions ease and colder weather forces people indoors. The spread comes despite broad access to vaccinations and should be a warning shot for the world, a World Health Organization official said Thursday.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn will conclude a two-day meeting with counterparts from the country’s 16 states later on Friday, when they are expected to agree on offering Covid-19 vaccine boosters to almost everyone who wants one.
The country’s immunization drive has stalled in recent months, with just under 67% of the population fully vaccinated. Some 16 million Germans who are eligible for a Covid shot have opted not to get one, and 3 million of those are at least 60 years old, Spahn said this week.
The infection rate in Saxony is ten times higher among non-vaccinated people, according to Kretchmer. He warned that restrictions may need to be reimposed if trends continue.
“If we don’t act swiftly, we’ll end up in a lockdown like last year,” Kretschmer said in an interview with Deutschlandfunk radio. “It’s about preventing that to protect children, families and the economy.”
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