June 19, 2021

Germany’s record death toll is “very worrying,” says infectious disease institute chief

Employees move coffins at a crematorium in Meissen, Germany on January 13. Jens Schlueter/AFP/Getty Images

The number of coronavirus fatalities in Germany is “very worrying,” the head of the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases (RKI) said Thursday, as the country reported its highest single-day pandemic death toll of 1,244.

New Covid-19 infections ”must reduce massively,” Lothar Wieler told journalists in Berlin, adding that ”intensive care units have never been as exhausted as in recent days.” There are now 5,200 patients being treated in German ICUs with 90% on ventilation.

The average age of patients in intensive care units is around 60 years, the RKI chief said. 

Germany is on high alert for new, more contagious mutations of the virus, Wieler said. Sixteen new coronavirus cases associated with the variant from the UK and four new coronavirus cases associated with the variant from South Africa have been detected in the country.

On Thursday, Germany recorded 25,164 new coronavirus infections, bringing the total tally to 1,978,590, according to the latest RKI data.

The RKI chief said the current lockdown in place is “not as effective as in spring,” calling on German citizens to ”stay at home whenever possible,” and urging employers to also allow employees to work from home.

On Wednesday, Health Minister Jens Spahn dashed hopes that Germany would be able to lift all coronavirus lockdown measures at the beginning of February.