Germany warns that the third wave of the coronavirus could be the worst to date with 100,000 infections daily

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Germany warns that the third wave of the coronavirus could be the worst to date with 100,000 infections daily

  • Health official Lothar Wieler warned: ‘this wave will be worse than the first two’
  • German Health Minister Jens Spahn warned hospitals could hit the limit in April
  • Angela Merkel had to scrap plans for an ultra-strict Easter lockdown this week

The third wave of coronavirus in Germany could be the worst to date and the number of daily infections could even reach 100,000 a day, the country’s top disease official warned today.

Lothar Wieler said there were “clear signs that this wave will be worse than the first two” which has already caused more than 75,000 deaths.

Angela Merkel’s health minister, Jens Spahn, said the health system could reach its limit in April, with intensive care units already filling up again as infections increase.

Wieler urged people to stay home over Easter, but plans for a near-complete shutdown next week were dropped on Wednesday in an embarrassing climb by Merkel.

The infection rate in Germany is rapidly rising again in a resurgence partly due to the UK variant of the disease, with a daily average of 15,000 cases today

The infection rate in Germany is rapidly rising again in a resurgence partly due to the UK variant of the disease, with a daily average of 15,000 cases today

Deaths are lower than during the winter peak, but would likely rise again if the number of cases reached a record 100,000 per day, a figure never seen in Europe

Deaths are lower than during the winter peak, but would likely rise again if the number of cases reached a record 100,000 per day, a figure never seen in Europe

Deaths are lower than during the winter peak, but would likely rise again if the number of cases reached a record 100,000 per day, a figure never seen in Europe

Wieler, the head of the German health agency Robert Koch (RKI), warned at a press conference on Friday that “we have some very difficult weeks ahead of us.”

He said 100,000 daily infections were not ruled out, compared to a winter peak of about 26,000 confirmed cases per day.

The number fell to about 7,000 a day in mid-February, but has more than doubled since then, rising again to an average of 15,000 on Friday.

The death toll in Germany is already at 75,623, the vast majority of which is in the second wave after the country successfully suppressed the first.

The UK variant of Covid-19 has been blamed in part for the latest growth in business coming despite a four-month freeze with many businesses remaining closed.

No European country has ever registered 100,000 new cases per day, although the UK is thought to have had that many in the first wave when testing was limited.

The highest figure recorded in Germany to date was 33,777 infections added to the census on December 18, just after the country entered its current lockdown.

A Covid-19 patient is being treated this week by medical personnel wearing protective clothing in an intensive care unit at Robert Bosch Hospital in Stuttgart

A Covid-19 patient is being treated this week by medical personnel wearing protective clothing in an intensive care unit at Robert Bosch Hospital in Stuttgart

A Covid-19 patient is being treated this week by medical personnel wearing protective clothing in an intensive care unit at Robert Bosch Hospital in Stuttgart

Merkel tried to tighten restrictions this week by imposing a five-day shutdown during Easter, with even supermarkets said to be largely closed.

But the plan was widely condemned as unworkable and scrapped 36 hours later when an apologetic Merkel said the policy had been a “mistake.”

Nonetheless, millions of Germans face severe restrictions due to an ’emergency brake’ mechanism that kicks in when cases exceed 100 per 100,000 people in a week.

That is now the case in more than half of Germany’s 412 districts, meaning that the majority of Germany’s 83 million residents could soon be over the threshold.

Measures being considered for those areas include new curfews and requiring people to wear masks in their own cars.

Top German disease official Lothar Wieler (left) and Health Minister Jens Spahn (right) both sounded new warnings today about today's third wave

Top German disease official Lothar Wieler (left) and Health Minister Jens Spahn (right) both sounded new warnings today about today's third wave

Top German disease official Lothar Wieler (left) and Health Minister Jens Spahn (right) both sounded new warnings today about today’s third wave

The long-term restrictions have undermined public confidence in Merkel’s government, sending her party’s polls into free fall six months before an election.

Frustration has also grown over the slow roll-out of vaccines, which has yet to deliver a first dose to 10 percent of the population.

Spahn today called on local authorities to take a more flexible approach to vaccination, for example by offering unused vaccine doses to anyone over the age of 70.

The health minister said Germany was in the final stages of the pandemic ‘marathon’, but expressed fears that the health system could reach its limit next month.

Germany currently has 3,260 patients in intensive care, a number lower than the winter peak of 5,762, but which has risen significantly in recent weeks.

Spahn also said a requirement for all air passengers entering Germany to take a negative coronavirus test would go into effect Monday at midnight.

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