Germany reports record daily COVID cases as omicron surges
Robert Koch Institute confirms 133,536 infections, 234 related deaths over past 24 hours
Germany on Thursday surpassed 130,000 daily coronavirus cases for the first time, as the highly contagious omicron variant continues to surge across the country.
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the country's disease control agency, confirmed 133,536 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, and 234 coronavirus-related fatalities.
It was the second day in a row the country saw record number of daily cases, as health authorities reported 112,323 infections on Wednesday.
Despite the worrying increase in new infections in recent weeks, most of the cases have been mild so far, not requiring hospitalization.
Germany’s hospitalization rate stands at 3.56 per 100,000 residents, much lower than the figures seen in the previous waves of the pandemic.
The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units continued to decline this week, according to official data.
As of Wednesday, 2,571 patients were receiving treatment in ICUs, the lowest rate since mid-November. More than 3,100 intensive care beds were free.
However, public health officials are warning that omicron is spreading significantly faster than previous variants, and it could swamp the healthcare system if cases continue to climb dramatically in the coming days.
German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said the new infections are likely to increase over the next few weeks, and the peak of the current fifth wave is expected in mid-February.
The government has stepped up its vaccination campaign to curb the spread of omicron, and health authorities are calling on people to get their booster shots to protect themselves from severe illness from the virus.
Roughly 73% of Germany’s population of 83 million has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while nearly 49% of the people have received their booster shots.