Germany sees record Covid cases, considers new lockdown.
BERLIN – Germany on Thursday reported a record number of more than 50,000 daily coronavirus cases as lawmakers pondered legislation that would pave the way for new coronavirus measures.
The Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s national disease control center, recorded 50,196 new cases, up from 33,949 daily cases the previous week.
Infections have multiplied so rapidly in recent days that hospitals in the worst-hit regions canceled scheduled surgeries to allow medical staff to focus on COVID-19 patients.
The institute also reported 237 daily deaths from COVID-19, bringing the death toll from the pandemic in Germany to 97,198.
One of the country’s leading virologists, Christian Drosten, warned on Wednesday that another 100,000 people could die in the coming months if the country’s vaccination rate did not accelerate rapidly.
Unlike other European countries, Germany has refused to make vaccinations mandatory for certain categories of workers and has fought to persuade more people to get vaccinated voluntarily.
At least 67% of the population of 83 million is fully vaccinated, according to official figures.
“In Germany, I have to say, unfortunately, that our vaccination rate is not high enough to prevent the rapid spread of the virus,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday night.
Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who is likely to take over as chancellor, echoed Merkel, telling lawmakers that everything possible should be done to vaccinate more people.
“The virus is still with us and threatens our health,” Scholz said. “We have to make sure that vaccinations are carried out and that they are carried out at high speed.”
A provisional national government has ruled Germany since the September parliamentary elections. The three parties expected to form the new government is seeking to replace a March 2020 “national epidemic” declaration by the end of the month with new legislation for the enactment of COVID-19 measures.
Scholz announced that all three parties – his own pro-business Social Democrats, Greens, and Free Democrats – plan to reopen vaccination centers across the country so people can get booster shots quickly.
Other measures against the virus include free tests, daily or frequent tests in nursing homes and schools, and stricter enforcement of the measures.
Germany has had a patchwork of regional rules throughout the pandemic. Most venues allow access to many indoor facilities and events only to those who have been vaccinated, recovered from COVID-19, or had a recent negative test.
Scholz said both he and Merkel agreed that the federal government and the 16 states should meet again next week to find common solutions on how to counter the rise in infection.
“That’s what we need now: for the country to stick together and pull in one direction so we can get through this winter,” Scholz said.