Germany sees 2nd straight COVID case record, mulls response

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Medical staff members treat a coronavirus patient in the ICU of the Asklepios Clinic in Munich, Germany, Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021 as the country has been experiencing an increasing number of COVID-19 cases. (Peter Kneffel/dpa via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — Germany recorded its second consecutive daily record for new coronavirus cases on Friday as infections pick up across Europe, and its disease control center said unvaccinated people now face a “very high” risk of infection.

The country saw 37,120 reported new infections over the past 24 hours, according to the disease control center, the Robert Koch Institute. That compared with Thursday’s figure of 33,949 — which in turn topped the previous record of 33,777 set on Dec. 18 last year.

While it’s possible that the figures were pushed up by delayed testing and reporting following a regional holiday Monday in some of the worst-affected areas, they underlined a steady rise in infections over recent weeks that has put COVID-19 firmly back in the headlines in Germany. Another 154 deaths brought Germany’s total to 96,346 on Friday.

The country’s infection rate has now exceeded its peak during a spike of cases in the spring, though it’s still short of the worst-ever showing in December, according to Friday’s figures. There have been 169.9 reported cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days, up from 139.2 a week ago.

That’s still a lower rate than in several other European countries, but it is ringing alarm bells.

In a weekly report released late Thursday, the Robert Koch Institute said unvaccinated or partly vaccinated people now face a “very high” risk to their health — a change from its previous assessment that they face a “high” risk. “For fully vaccinated people, the threat is considered moderate, but rising in view of the increasing infection figures,” it added.

Federal and regional health officials were discussing the response at a previously scheduled two-day meeting wrapping up Friday in Bavaria.

Germany’s health minister has called for booster vaccinations to be stepped up, for more frequent checks of people’s vaccination or test status and for obligatory testing nationwide of nursing home staff and visitors. In highly decentralized Germany, state governments bear the primary responsibility for imposing and loosening restrictions.

Authorities also are appealing anew to German residents who haven’t yet been vaccinated at all to get their shots. They say pressure on hospital beds is rising, particularly in regions where vaccination rates are relatively low.

Official figures show that about two-thirds of Germany’s population of 83 million has completed its first round of vaccination, but there are significant regional variations.

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