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BERLIN, Nov. 25 (Reuters) – Germany crossed the bleak 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 record of 75,961.
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 tripartite government, which coalition deal on Wednesday, said it would create a team of experts who would 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.
The country should consider partial lockdowns, Christian Democrats parliamentary leader Ralph Brinkhaus told Deutschlandfunk radio.
“The situation is very, very serious… and if what we’re being told is correct – and it was generally good – the situation will become much, much more serious.”
Much of Germany has already introduced 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.
Scholz has promised to arrange long queues for booster shots in some areas that slow things down.
More and more politicians are calling for mandatory vaccinations, initially for employees in some sectors, but possibly later for everyone.
Reporting by Madeline Chambers and Emma Thomasson; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Alison Williams
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