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COVID cases hit record high in Germany

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By Euronews, AP
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Students wear mouth-to-nose coverings while sitting close to each other during the lecture 'BWL 1' in lecture hall H1 of the Westfaelische Wilhelms-Universitaet in Muenster
Students wear mouth-to-nose coverings while sitting close to each other during the lecture 'BWL 1' in lecture hall H1 of the Westfaelische Wilhelms-Universitaet in Muenster   -   Copyright  AP Photo

The rate of coronavirus infections in Germany has hit record levels.

The country has seen 201.1 new cases per 100,000 residents over the last week; the previous high was 197.6 in December last year.

While it's still a lower rate than in several other European countries, it has set alarm bells ringing about what has been called a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”.

The Robert Koch Institute, Germany's national disease control centre, said on Monday that 15,513 new cases had been reported over the past 24 hours — down from a record 37,120 on Friday. Figures are often lower after the weekend.

Germany has struggled to find ways to boost its much-slowed vaccination campaign. At least 67% of the country's 83 million population is fully vaccinated, according to official figures.

Unlike some other European countries, it has baulked at making vaccinations mandatory for any professional group.

As at many times during the pandemic, Germany has a patchwork of regional rules. Most places restrict access to many indoor facilities and events to people who have been vaccinated, have recovered or been tested — with the latter now being excluded in some areas. Those rules are often enforced laxly.

Rules on whether schoolchildren must wear masks in class vary from state to state.

Free rapid tests for all were scrapped nearly a month ago in an effort to incentivise more people to get vaccinated. There are now widespread calls for them to be reintroduced. And officials now advocate booster vaccinations for everyone who got their initial shots six months ago or more.

Germany currently has a caretaker national government after its election in September. The parties that are expected to form the next government plan to bring legislation to parliament this week that would allow an “epidemic situation of national scope,” in place since March 2020, to expire at the end of the month but provide a new legal framework for coronavirus measures.