German coronavirus cases jump by most since start of pandemic

Infections in Germany surged by 45,113 in the 24 hours through Dec 17, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. PHOTO: NYTIMES

BERLIN (BLOOMBERG) - Germany recorded the most new coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, one day after the government imposed a hard lockdown on Europe's biggest economy.

Infections surged by 45,113 in the 24 hours through Thursday morning (Dec 17), according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That easily exceeded the previous high of 32,734 recorded last week and brought the total to 1.42 million. Daily virus-related fatalities amounted to 729, after hitting a record 910 on Wednesday.

Chancellor Angela Merkel hinted this week that stringent restrictions, which are set to run until Jan 10, will remain in place longer.

Dr Merkel told her parliamentary caucus that Germany faces a new peak of infections next month and predicted that the first two months of 2021 will be particularly tough, according to a participant in the virtual meeting Tuesday.

A strict lockdown began on Wednesday, with non-essential stores closed, employers urged to shutter workplaces where possible and parents encouraged to keep children away from school.

Germany's seven-day incidence rate has risen sharply in the past few weeks and currently is at a near-record of 179 per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the RKI public health institute. Officials have said the rate needs to come down to 50 and stay there to allow effective contact tracing.

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