German chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that “difficult weeks lie ahead” after the country’s coronavirus infection rates rose to their highest ever level.
he outgoing leader urged those who had not been vaccinated against Covid-19 to think again about their decision as cases sky-rocketed.
“You can see that I am very worried,” Ms Merkel said in her weekly video podcast. “I urgently ask everyone who has not yet been vaccinated: please reconsider.”
Germany’s seven-day infection rate – the number of people per 100,000 to be infected over the last week – rose to 277.4 on Saturday, data from the Robert Koch Institute showed.
The previous high – recorded during the country’s third wave last December – was 197.6.
Another 228 deaths on Friday brought Germany’s total pandemic fatalities to 97,617.
Speaking about her country’s rising rates on Saturday, Ms Merkel added: “If we stand together, if we think about protecting ourselves and caring for others, we can save our country a lot this winter.”
She also called on those who are vaccinated already to get a booster shot against Covid. The booster vaccinations are “a real chance to break the severe autumn and winter wave of the pandemic”, the chancellor said.
The German federal government and leaders of its 16 states are now due to meet next week to discuss tightening measures, though the three parties negotiating to form a new government following September’s elections have declined to renew a pandemic state of emergency that expires on November 25.
“It has always helped us when states and the federal government worked together and committed to uniform rules,” Ms Merkel said.
Germany is not the only country struggling as a fourth wave now washes over much of Europe.
The World Health Organisation said on Wednesday that there had been a 7pc rise in new coronavirus cases across the continent compared with the previous week – making it the only region in the world where cases were increasing.
Among those suffering the worst are the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, where cases have jumped 50pc, while the Netherlands government has this week imposed a three-week lockdown following rising cases there.
Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland