Germany sees more than 300,000 Covid infections in 24 hours
Germany has reported more than 300,000 Covid infections within a day for the first time since the pandemic began.
For the first time in the Covid pandemic, German health authorities logged 318,387 new infections within 24 hours on Thursday.
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) also said 300 people died from or with the virus within the latest 24 hour period.
The nationwide 7-day incidence increased further to 1,752 infections per 100,000 people. That's up from an incidence of 1,734.2 the previous day.
As The Local reported earlier this week, hospitals in Germany are struggling with staff shortages due to people going off sick or having to quarantine with Covid.
But Covid hospitalisations are not rising as fast as the infection rate.
On Thursday, the RKI said the 7-day incidence of hospitalised Covid cases is 7.28 per 100,000 population. Meanwhile, around 2,335 patients with Covid-19 are in intensive care units with 895 receiving ventilation treatment. During previous Covid peaks there were more than 5,000 patients in intensive care units.
The German government is in the process of relaxing Covid restrictions - however states recently extended them as part of a transition period until early April.
'High incidence phase'
It came as high profile health expert Christian Drosten said the current wave of high infections could continue until around mid-April. Experts believe the Omicron sub-type BA.2 is fuelling the wave, as well as people socialising more.
"Currently, we are in a high-incidence phase," said the scientist from the Charité hospital in Berlin during an interview with Die Zeit newspaper. He said it would likely stay that way until Easter if no action is taken.
With a view to the summer, Drosten said mild measures, such as masks indoors, would be efficient for keeping the spread low.
And he said that restrictions could be needed for years to come - at least in the colder months.
In general, it will take years to build up community immunity as with influenza, said Drosten, who advises the German government on Covid measures. Therefore, "we will have to control the incidence for years to come with relatively mild measures in autumn and winter," he added.
Drosten also said booster vaccinations with a focus on risk groups in autumn could also help contain future Covid waves.