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Germany’s COVID infection rate hits record high as vaccinations slow

BERLIN — Germany’s coronavirus infection rate climbs to its highest recorded level yet as what officials have called a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” gathers pace.

The national disease control center, the Robert Koch Institute, says the country has seen 201.1 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days. That is above the previous record of 197.6 from December 22 last year. While it’s still a lower rate than in several other European countries, it has set alarm bells ringing.

The seven-day infection rate has long ceased to be the only policy yardstick in Germany, with new hospital admissions now an important factor. Those are currently at just under 4 per 100,000 residents over a week — compared with a peak of about 15.5 last Christmas — but officials say hospitals are filling up in badly affected areas.

The disease control center says today that 15,513 new COVID-19 cases were reported over the past 24 hours — down from a record 37,120 on Friday, but figures are typically lower after the weekend. Another 33 deaths are recorded, bringing Germany’s total to 96,558.

Germany has struggled to find ways to pep up its much-slowed vaccination campaign. At least 67% of the population of 83 million is fully vaccinated, according to official figures, which authorities say isn’t enough. Unlike some other European countries, it has balked at making vaccinations mandatory for any professional group.

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