Germany locks out after record number of Covid deaths

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The country has recorded 27,728 new cases of the coronavirus, the Robert-Koch-Institute (RKI) reported, as it entered a strict national lockdown on Wednesday in an effort to bring the situation under control.

But the institute said a delay in reporting data from the great state of Saxony could partly explain the sharp increase.

Data was not transmitted from Saxony on Monday, so Wednesday’s report includes missing figures for Monday and Tuesday.

The record daily increase in cases, set on December 11, is 29,875.

German leaders have sounded the alarm bells in recent days as the country faces a frightening spike in coronavirus infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

The RKI chief said on Tuesday the situation was “as serious as it has ever been during this pandemic”.

“At the moment, far too many people are infected,” Lothar Wieler said, adding that Germany must be prepared for “the situation to worsen over Christmas”.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn has joined a number of other European countries in asking the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to approve the vaccine soon.

He said Germany would be ready to start vaccinating residents “two to four days” after approval.

“The aim is to get approval before Christmas,” Spahn told reporters at a press conference, adding: “We want to start vaccinating in Germany before the end of the year. ”

Medical staff administer antigen tests in the parking lot of the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Germany, December 14.

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier addressed the nation on Monday in a rare speech, calling the situation “very serious”.

“From Wednesday, our public and private life will be more restricted than we have ever seen in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany”, he declared, adding that “drastic measures” will not could be avoided.

Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the lockdown on Sunday. The new rules will see retail and non-essential services, as well as schools and kindergartens close until January 10, 2021, and Christmas gatherings will drop from 10 people to just five in two different households.

Merkel warned the German parliament a week ago that the nationwide restrictions introduced on November 2 were ineffective and that measures were needed to prevent exponential growth in the numbers.

“If we have too much contact now before Christmas, and it ends up being last Christmas with the grandparents, then we will have failed. We shouldn’t be doing this, ”she said in an unusually heated speech.

People crowd the Zeil shopping street in Frankfurt on December 15, the last day before a nationwide lockdown.

RKI’s surveillance unit chief Ute Rexroth has issued a growing number of infections and probable deaths, and said Germany had twice as many infections in nursing homes as when it was first peak of coronavirus in the spring of this year.

The staggering new figures are a source of major concern and could send the world’s fourth-largest economy into yet another recession. This represents a stern warning to other countries facing a winter outbreak of Covid-19.

Germany had previously been lauded for its success in containing the virus through decisive early action, a world-class health system and an exemplary testing and tracing program.

An earlier version of this story distorted the gap between Saxony figures released on Wednesday. They included Monday and Tuesday.

CNN’s Emma Reynolds and Nadine Schmidt contributed to this report.

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