Germany’s confirmed new cases of COVID-19 shot up to 11,287 in the 24 hours to Thursday, from 7,595 new infections on Wednesday, as the second wave of the virus grips the country.
The data from the Robert Koch Institute, the country’s official monitor of the virus, marks the highest daily number of new infections since the pandemic arrived in Germany in February this year.
On Wednesday, German federal health minister Jens Spahn tested positive for the virus and is now in self-isolation at his home.
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The surge in new infections to over 50 per 100,000 people over a one-week period has prompted a wave of fresh restrictions, although so far there is no sign of a return to a nationwide lockdown imposed in March this year.
Since the beginning of September, Germany has been carrying out between 1.1 million and 1.2 million coronavirus tests per week. Officials pointed out that this means a climb in the number of cases and fewer numbers of cases going undetected as was the case at the beginning of the pandemic.
As the daily caseload soars to over 11,000, chancellor Angela Merkel’s September warning about exponential growth no longer seems extreme. Merkel said that if infections were not brought under control, daily new cases could surpass 19,000 a day before the end of the year.
Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute, said at a press conference on Thursday that “the situation has become very serious overall,” but added that “at the moment we still have the chance to slow down the further spread of the virus.”
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According to Johns Hopkins University data, 397,922 people have caught the coronavirus in Germany so far, and 9,911 have died from it.
Health experts have blamed parties, private events, and other celebrations for the rise in infections, and warned that local lockdowns can be expected if cases continue to spiral. State and federal leaders are still keen to avoid nationwide lockdowns to try to protect businesses and the economy.
In the capital Berlin, an 11pm curfew is now in place for bars and restaurants, and the city has made mask-wearing compulsory in busy shopping streets and markets, in addition to its normal rules on wearing masks inside public spaces and on transport.
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People in Germany have been confronted with confusing new rules, including bans — many which have now been legally overturned — on travelling to other German states without a negative coronavirus test.
Germany on Thursday declared Switzerland, Ireland, Poland and most of Austria as high-risk areas, warning against unnecessary travel to these countries.
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