BERLIN – Germany’s total coronavirus cases exceeded 1 million for the first time late Thursday (Nov 26), passing the grim milestone around 10 months after the country reported the first infections.
Cases in Europe’s biggest economy have more than tripled since the start of October, with the number of people with the disease in intensive care climbing to record levels.
Germany recorded 21,951 new infections in the 24 hours through Friday morning, taking the total to 1,017,830, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The number of deaths rose by 430, the biggest gain since April 16’s record of 510.
Like other European nations, Germany has imposed stricter measures in recent weeks to stop the disease from spreading.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of Germany’s 16 states agreed Wednesday to tighten limits on private gatherings but kept schools and most businesses operating to help limit the impact on the economy.
In contrast to nations like France and the UK, Germany’s curbs have yielded little progress in slowing the disease’s spread.
Infection levels are still nearly three times the government’s target rate and fatalities have exceeded 300 for four straight days, the first time that’s occurred since the start of the pandemic.
“The case numbers have stagnated at far too high a level,” Mrs Merkel told lawmakers on Thursday.
She wants the seven-day incidence per 100,000 citizens to come down to around 50 – and stay there – before restrictions can be loosened. It was at 138 on Thursday, according to the latest report from the RKI public health institute.
“We undoubtedly have some difficult months ahead of us again,” Mrs Merkel said before urging citizens to do everything they can to avoid a “worst-case scenario.”
The chancellor said restrictions will likely remain in place until early January, while her chief of staff raised the possibility of them being extended until March.
On a more positive note, Mrs Merkel said it’s possible that a vaccine for the virus will be available before Christmas.