New coronavirus cases top 50,000 in Germany for the first time

FRANKFURT – New coronavirus cases in Germany topped the 50,000 mark for the first time, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said today, adding pressure on the next government to push through more ambitious containment measures.

Germany’s public health body reported 50,196 new cases within the past 24 hours. The RKI also reported 235 new deaths. Numbers in Germany have surged over recent days. The previous record was reported on Wednesday with new cases hitting 39,676.

The German parliament will discuss later today a set of rules to help contain the spread of the virus. The rules, proposed by the three parties currently in coalition talks to form Germany’s new government, are not expected to be voted into law until next week and fall short of more drastic measure called for by many of the country’s experts.

Germany’s most prominent virologist, Christian Drosten, has warned that the country’s COVID-19 death toll could rise by another 100,000 — as many again as have already died in the pandemic — before the coronavirus situation reaches a more stable, endemic, state. Some 15 million people in Germany have not been vaccinated, and many of them are elderly and vulnerable to the disease, Drosten told his latest podcast.

With infections hitting record levels, the southern state of Bavaria has declared a state of emergency for the third time in the pandemic, regional broadcaster BR reported. This step allows the regional government to step up its coordination of emergency services to cope with soaring caseloads. 

Katrin Göring-Eckardt, parliamentary group leader of the Greens, meanwhile, expressed alarm over rising figures. But in an interview with German radio ahead of the Parliamentary debate, she affirmed her opposition to an extension of special powers that serve as the legal basis for most coronavirus restrictions that are due to expire on November 25. Her party is trying to form an alliance with the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) and the liberal Free Democrats (FDP).

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