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Friday, January 22, 2021

German lockdown loopholes criticized as deaths hit new high

Germany has too many loopholes in its coronavirus lockdown rules, the head of the country’s disease control agency said as figures published Thursday showed the highest number of daily deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The Robert Koch Institute said 1,244 deaths from coronavirus were confirmed in Germany in one day up to Thursday, taking the total number to 43,881. There were also 25,164 newly confirmed cases, putting Germany’s total known infections close to 2 million.

Lothar Wieler, president of the institute, said data indicated people in Germany are traveling more than during the first phase of the pandemic in spring, contributing to the virus’ spread.

German authorities have imposed restrictions on social contacts, largely closed schools and limited travel for those in areas with high infection rates, but the rules aren’t uniformly enforced across the country’s 16 states.

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“To me, these measures we’re now taking aren’t a complete lockdown,” said Wieler. “There are still too many exceptions and they aren’t being strictly implemented.”

Officials are considering tougher restrictions to curb the continued rise in infections.

The 7-day rolling average of daily new cases in Germany has risen over the past two weeks from 23.36 new cases per 100,000 people on Dec. 30 to 26.03 per 100,000 people on Jan. 13.

Wieler pointed to the sharp spike in infections seen in Ireland in recent days as an example of how quickly the outbreak can escalate again if rules are relaxed, especially given the new seemingly more contagious variant of the virus circulating there and in neighboring Britain.

All infections with the variants so far confirmed in Germany involved people who had traveled outside the country, said Wieler.

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