As worries over the B.1.1.529 coronavirus variant lead to travel restrictions imposed on some African countries, other nations in central Europe have seen Covid-19 cases soar as they issue lockdowns and dire warnings.
Germany’s acting Health Minister Jens Spahn said “wake-up calls [have] not reached everyone in Germany” at a health press conference in Berlin, warning that “contact restrictions must be reduced.”
Spahn urged that “if decisive action is not taken now, there will be drastic measures in the coming weeks.”
Spahn said Germany must do more to tackle record levels of infections. Last week, outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the country was limiting public access for the unvaccinated.
”We need a massive reduction in contacts between people — immediately”, the country’s head of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) Lothar Wieler reiterated at the same press conference. “The number of patients in ICUs is rising rapidly.”
Wieler said that in some Covid-19 hotspot areas, patient transfers to others have started as ICUs are overfilled.
Germany on Friday broke the record of daily Covid-19 infections with 76,414 new cases in a single day. On Tuesday, Germany recorded 75,961 Covid-19 cases.
More than 100,000 people have died as a result of coronavirus in Germany, according to RKI data. The country reported 357 new deaths related to Covid-19 from Thursday to Friday.
According to the RKI, the country’s seven-day incidence rate has also hit new record levels, rising to 438.2 cases per 100,000 people. The new total for Covid-19 cases in Germany is now 5,650,170.
Germany’s health experts say one reason for the spike is the country’s full vaccination rate, which at just under 68% is one of the lowest in western Europe. Around 32% have no protection against the virus, according to the RKI.
Other countries take action: Austria reimposed a national lockdown. Slovakia is locked down until December 9 and a state of emergency will last for 90 days. The Netherlands has returned to partial lockdown, and Hungary and the Czech Republic are among four new additions to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s highest-risk travel category.
-Amy Cassidy and Maureen O’Hare contributed to this report.