German COVID-19 deaths exceed 100,000 in fourth wave

A member of the public order office is joined by police officers as he checks the coronavirus disease (COVID 19) “2G” protocol in Pirna, Germany, Nov. 24, 2021. REUTERS/Matthias Rietschel

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BERLIN, Nov. 25 (Reuters) – Germany crossed the threshold of 100,000 COVID-19-related deaths on Thursday with a spate of infections challenging the new government.

An additional 351 people have died from the coronavirus, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 100,119, data from the Robert Koch Institute of Infectious Diseases shows. The number of new daily cases reached a new all-time high of 75,961.

“The day we have to mourn 100,000 victims of the coronavirus is a sad day,” outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel said at a news conference.

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She urged her successors to act quickly and impose further social distancing measures to break the virus’ exponential growth curve.

“The people who get sick today are essentially the 10- to 14-day intensive care patients,” she added. “So it’s critical that we make sure our hospitals aren’t overloaded.”

Hospitals in some areas, especially in eastern and southern Germany, are under pressure and leading virologist Christian Drosten warned another 100,000 could die during the pandemic.

The head of the Robert Koch Institute estimates the death rate at about 0.8%, which means that at daily numbers of around 50,000, about 400 people per day will die.

Germany’s incoming three-party government, which announced its coalition deal on Wednesday, said it would assemble a team of experts to assess the situation on a daily basis.

Greens co-leader Annalena Baerbock said the new government, made up of the Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and the Free Democrats (FDP), has given itself 10 days to decide whether further restrictions are needed.

Some, including many of Merkel’s conservative allies, say they need to act faster.

Much of Germany has already put in place rules restricting access to indoor activities to people who have been vaccinated or recovered.

FDP leader Christian Lindner said tougher regional restrictions are likely to be needed if a national lockdown, such as the one in neighboring Austria, is to be avoided.

With a vaccine rate of just 68.2%, far behind some European countries such as Portugal and Spain, Chancellor Olaf Scholz promised to ramp up vaccinations and did not rule out making it mandatory.

The number of people who want to be vaccinated has soared in recent days, with 795,386 receiving an injection on Wednesday, although the majority – 626,535 – were boosters.

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Reporting by Madeline Chambers, Emma Thomasson and Thomas Escritt; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Alison Williams

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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