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German disease control head warns of 'terrible Christmas' as country faces fourth wave of COVID-19

COVID-19 germany
Posted at 4:33 AM, Nov 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-18 09:10:24-05

The head of Germany's disease control agency has warned that the country faces a "really terrible Christmas" unless steps are taken to counter the sharp rise in coronavirus infections.

German lawmakers are debating measures Thursday that would replace the nationwide epidemic rules, which will expire at the end of the month.

The Robert Koch Institute, Germany's disease control agency, said Thursday that 65,371 newly confirmed cases had been reported in a single day, continuing the upward trend that experts have been warning about for weeks.

"We are currently heading toward a serious emergency," agency director Lothar Wieler said, according to Sky News. "We are going to have a really terrible Christmas if we don't take countermeasures now."

Wieler said Germany needs to increase its vaccination rates to significantly above 75%, from 67.7% at present. Some regions in Germany have vaccination rates as low as 57.6%.

Wieler also noted that some hospitals in the country are nearing a breaking point.

The current surge in cases represents Germany's "fourth wave" since the start of the pandemic.

"The current pandemic situation in Germany is dramatic, I can't say it any other way," chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday, according to Sky News. "The fourth wave is hitting our country with full force."