Germany’s coronavirus infection rate hit a record for the third straight day on Monday, with the renewed surge prompting the country’s top health official to issue a grim warning.
Covid-19 cases climbed to 1,543 per 100,000 people over seven days, continuing its steady rise since the beginning of March, according to data from the RKI public-health institute.
The outbreak shows signs of worsening and causing “many deaths,” Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said Sunday in a tweet. He urged vaccine holdouts to urgently get their COVID shots.
Europe’s biggest economy started to unwind pandemic-related restrictions in mid-February after the previous peak, and most remaining curbs are set to expire on Sunday. The country hasn’t seen the precipitous drop in transmission that has occurred in other countries, such as the U.K. and the U.S. and daily deaths from the virus are still around 250 to 300 people.
The rising infection numbers are due in part to the spread of the even more infectious BA.2 subvariant of the Omicron strain, which now accounts for about half the COVID cases in Germany, according to the RKI.
Some 2.7 million Germans aged 60 and older haven’t been vaccinated, leaving them at greater risk of becoming severely ill.
Meanwhile, the war in Ukraine has distracted public attention from the pandemic, and contagion rates have again been rising across Europe. The incidence rate climbed to almost 2,770 in the Netherlands and Austria and more than 2,000 in Switzerland. In the U.K., the rate is just below 580, while in France it’s at 616 and in Italy 505.
Lauterbach has said Germany is facing a critical situation even as many appear to believe that the pandemic is effectively over and are eschewing measures like social distancing and mask wearing in public places.
Despite the surge in infections, the number of Covid cases in intensive care units are at less than half the peak set last year.
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