Lockdown

dpa/GNA – Germany’s death toll and confirmed caseload in the coronavirus pandemic surged to new heights on Friday, as state administrations across the country move to tighten a lockdown that has been prolonged until the end of the month at the earliest.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for disease control reported 1,188 deaths over a 24-hour period, the highest daily count seen in the country yet.

The number of infections rose by 31,849, also one of the strongest increases so far.

According to the RKI’s tallies, over 1.8 million people have caught the novel coronavirus in Germany, 38,795 of whom have died.

The government agency has warned that a lag in testing over the Christmas and New Year period may still be having an impact on the numbers.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that the true rate of infection in the country won’t be clear until January 17.

Federal and state governments are striving to get infections back down to below 50 per 100,000 people over a seven-day period, so that overwhelmed local health authorities can resume tracking chains of infection.

That key metric currently stands at 136.5 for the whole of Germany, the RKI reported on Friday. In some hard-hit districts, concentrated mainly in the east, the rate is currently above 400 or even 500.

Germany has closed schools, non-essential shops, bars, restaurants, and leisure and cultural facilities under a lockdown that has been incrementally tightened since early November.

On Tuesday, Merkel and the state premiers agreed to tougher rules on gatherings, limiting people to meet with just one other individual rather than a previous rule of two households and a maximum of five people.

Districts with more than 200 infections per 100,000 people over seven days are also to ban residents from travelling outside a 15-kilometre radius, although several states have been reluctant to implement this rule.

Merkel and the premiers are to meet again on January 25 to discuss whether to extend the restrictions further.

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