Disease center urges Germans to cancel or avoid big events
BERLIN — Germany's disease control center is calling for people to cancel or avoid large events and to reduce their contacts as the country's coronavirus infection rate hits the latest in a string of new highs.
The center, the Robert Koch Institute, said Friday that Germany's infection rate climbed to 263.7 new cases per 100,000 residents over seven days, up from 249.1 the previous day. Another 48,640 new cases were reported after the daily total topped 50,000 for the first time on Thursday. A further 191 deaths brought Germany's total so far to 97,389.
While the infection rate isn't as high as in some other European countries, its relentless rise has set off alarm bells. Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet the country's 16 state governors to coordinate nationwide measures next week, and parliament is mulling legislation that would provide a new legal framework for restrictions over the winter.
In its weekly report released late Thursday, the Robert Koch Institute said it "urgently advises canceling larger events if possible, but also reducing all other unnecessary contacts." If such events can't be avoided, it added, people should take a test before attending, regardless of whether they are vaccinated.
Most German regions restrict access to many indoor facilities and events to people who have been vaccinated against the virus, have recovered from COVID-19 or recently received negative test results — with the latter category now excluded in some areas. But enforcement is often slack.
Germany has struggled to bring new momentum to its vaccination campaign lately, with a bit over two-thirds of the population fully vaccinated, and has balked so far at ordering vaccine mandates for any professional group. Officials also want to ensure more people who were inoculated months ago get booster shots.