BERLIN (REUTERS) - Germany's coronavirus situation is dramatic, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday (Nov 17), calling for a push to distribute vaccine booster shots faster and appealing to those sceptical of vaccination to change their minds.
Germany reported 52,826 new infections on Wednesday - a jump of a third compared with a week ago and another daily record, while 294 people died, bringing the total to 98,274, as the pandemic's fourth wave tightened its grip on Europe.
"It is not too late to opt for a first vaccine shot," Dr Merkel told a congress of German city mayors. "Everyone who gets vaccinated protects himself and others. And if enough people get vaccinated, that is the way out of the pandemic."
Only 68 per cent of people in Europe's most populous country are fully vaccinated - lower than the average in western Europe due to a tradition of vaccine hesitancy, while 5 per cent of the population has had a booster shot.
Dr Merkel, governing in a caretaker capacity during negotiations to form a coalition government after an election in September, said there needs to be a national effort to get mass distribution of vaccine booster shots under way.
She also appealed to federal and regional leaders meeting on Thursday to introduce a measure that would trigger tighter restrictions based on the number of infected people who have to go to hospital in a week.
Germany has enough doses for a booster campaign, in part because it has delayed plans to donate vaccines to the Covax facility that distributes them to poorer countries, Health Minister Jens Spahn said.
The Social Democrats, Greens and Free Democrats, who are negotiating to form the next government, are set to propose a range of measures to fight the pandemic in a draft law set to be voted on in Parliament on Thursday.
They want to force people using public transport or attending workplaces to provide a negative Covid-19 test, or proof of recovery or vaccination.