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Germany Surpasses 2 Million Coronavirus Cases, Death Rate Up


BERLIN: Germany surpassed 2 million coronavirus infections and the death toll from the pandemic reached almost 45,000, experts said on Friday, a day after Chancellor Angela Merkel demanded “very fast action” to curb the deadly virus.

Europe’s biggest economy and most populous country managed the pandemic better than neighbours last spring. But it has seen a sharp rise in cases and deaths recently and daily per capita mortality has often exceeded the U.S. rate since mid-December.

Alarmed by the high infection rate and bracing for the spread of more transmissible variants of the virus, Merkel told top officials from her party on Thursday that she wanted “very fast action”.

Germany’s coronavirus cases increased by 22,368 to 2,000,958, according to the latest date from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases. It was the smallest rise in infections on a Friday for more than two months. A week ago, the number of new cases registered was almost 10,000 higher.

The situation in intensive care units relaxed slightly, too, according to the RKI.

But a high death toll, up 1,113 to 44,994 on Friday, and worries over more contagious variants of the coronavirus are fanning fears that existing lockdown measures are falling short.

Merkel aims to bring forward to next week a meeting with regional leaders initially planned for Jan. 25 to discuss tougher measures to further reduce social contact, participants at the meeting said.

Part of the debate is expected to be on whether companies should be forced or incentivised to have more people work from home.

The prime minister of Rhineland-Palatinate, Malu Dreyer, told broadcaster ZDF that she hopes for new consultations to take place early next week, “hopefully on Tuesday”.

Germany aims for its measures to bring the number of infections per 100,000 inhabitants over seven days down to no more than 50. That number currently stands around 150.

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