dpa/GNA – The number of coronavirus infections confirmed in Germany so far rose to over 2 million on Friday, as concerns over mutant forms of the virus raised the spectre of a tougher lockdown in Europe’s largest economy.
The nation’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for disease control reported an additional 22,368 cases over a 24-hour period, making for a total of 2,000,958 since the start of the pandemic.
The daily death toll was again in four-digit territory at 1,113, bringing the number of people who have died after catching the virus to 44,994, the RKI said.
Germany’s highest daily death toll so far – 1,244 – was recorded on Thursday.
The country has closed schools, non-essential shops, bars, restaurants, and leisure and cultural facilities under a lockdown that has been incrementally tightened since early November.
The measures, which also ban people from meeting with more than one other person from another household, are set to remain in place until the end of the month at the earliest.
Merkel had agreed to meet with the premiers again on January 25 to discuss the next steps – but on Thursday, sources close to the chancellor said she plans to move the talks forward to next week.
Merkel is said to be determined to act in the face of a more transmissible mutation of the novel coronavirus imported from Britain.
Sources from Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), who took part in a top-level party meeting with her on Thursday evening, quoted her as saying it was a race against time.