Germany experienced its highest single-day increase in Covid-19 infections, with Chancellor Angela Merkel describing the situation as “dramatic” and blaming it on the fourth wave “hitting our country with full force.”
Within the last 24 hours, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Germany’s disease and control centre, has reported 65,371 new cases, an increase of 12,545 new infections over the previous 24-hour period.
However, these figures are likely to be underestimated, and the true number of infections could be “twice or three times as many,” according to RKI chief Lothar Wieler, who spoke with Saxony’s state premier Michael Kretschmer in an online discussion on Wednesday evening.
According to RKI data, the country reported 264 Covid-19-related deaths from Wednesday to Thursday, bringing the total number of deaths in Germany since the pandemic began to 98,000.
RKI reported that Germany’s seven-day incidence rate reached new highs of 336.9 cases per 100,000 people, up from 249.1 cases reported a week ago.
With just over 67 percent of the population fully vaccinated, Germany has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Western Europe. According to the RKI, around 33% have no protection against the virus.
Experts say this is one of the reasons why infections have reached new highs, aided by the Covid-19 vaccines’ waning immunity and the more infectious Delta variant.
“As the vaccination campaign started in Germany at the beginning of this year, we now see some age groups and some people lose their immunity against Covid-19 quickly,” Tobias Kurth, a professor of public health and epidemiology at the Charité university hospital in Berlin, told CNN.
”The current pandemic situation in Germany is dramatic, I can’t say it any other way,” outgoing Chancellor Merkel told mayors from across Germany on Wednesday.
Hospitalizations and deaths are at much lower levels than in previous peaks, but as the country enters the winter months, there is growing concern about vaccination coverage gaps.
”It would be a disaster to act only when the intensive care units are full, because then it would be too late,” she added.