BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany entered a strict lockdown on Wednesday in a bid to contain the surge in coronavirus cases as the death toll from COVID-19 jumped 952, the largest daily increase to date .
Fears that the pandemic could get out of hand in Germany, Europe’s largest economy, prompted Chancellor Angela Merkel and the 16 state governors to announce on Sunday a strict lockdown until January 10 at the earliest.
Shops and schools will remain closed from Wednesday in a tightening of restrictions before Christmas following a partial lockdown in November, which closed bars and restaurants but failed to contain a second wave of the pandemic .
Germany was more successful than many European countries in keeping the coronavirus under control during the first wave of spring, but the situation looks very different now.
The Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases estimated the number of confirmed coronavirus cases at 1,379,238, an increase of 27,728. The total death toll in Germany is 23,427.
The highest daily increase in deaths was 598 on Friday.
Merkel told lawmakers on Tuesday she was concerned about the coronavirus trend and warned them that January and February would be very difficult months.
The Germans are awaiting regulatory approval for a partially developed vaccine in Germany even as other countries, including Britain and the United States, are rolling out it.
Health Minister Jens Spahn said Germany is expected to start administering coronavirus vaccines 24 to 72 hours after BioNTech and Pfizer’s vaccine has obtained EU approval and could start as early as Christmas . European authorities are expected to approve the vaccine next week.