Germany evaluates new measures for COVID-19 due to increased infections

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BERLIN – Germany reported a record number of more than 50,000 daily coronavirus cases on Thursday as lawmakers mulled over legislation that would pave the way for new coronavirus measures.

The Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s national center for disease control, recorded 50,196 new cases, up from 33,949 daily cases in the previous week. Infections have multiplied so rapidly in recent days that hospitals in the worst affected regions have 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 top virologists, Christian Drosten, warned Wednesday that another 100,000 people could die in the coming months if the country’s vaccination rate didn’t accelerate rapidly.

Unlike other European countries, Germany refused to make vaccinations mandatory for certain categories of workers and struggled to get more people to voluntarily get vaccinated.

At least 67% of the 83 million population are fully vaccinated, according to official data.

“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.

Deputy Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who is likely to take over as chancellor, echoed Merkel, telling lawmakers that everything must 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 conducted and that they are conducted at a high speed.”

An interim national government has ruled Germany since the September parliamentary elections. The three parties that are expected to form the new government are looking to replace a March 2020 “national epidemic” declaration at the end of the month with new legislation implementing COVID-19 measures.

Scholz announced that the three parties – his Social Democrats, the Greens and the Free Democrats for business – have plans to reopen vaccination centers across the country so that people can get their booster vaccinations quickly.

Other virus measures include free testing, daily or frequent testing in nursing homes and schools, and stricter enforcement of the measures.

Germany had a patchwork of regional rules during the pandemic. Most places only allow access to many indoor facilities and events for those people who have been vaccinated, recovered from COVID-19, or have had a recent negative test.

Scholz said both he and Merkel have agreed that the federal government and all 16 states must meet again next week to find common solutions on how to counter the spike in infection.

“This is what we need now: for the country to stick together and push in one direction so we can get through this winter,” said Scholz.

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