German virus case count passes 5 million

·2-min read

The cumulative case count of coronavirus infections in Germany has now passed the five-million mark, according to official figures.

The Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases reported 33,498 new cases on Sunday, bringing the national total to 5,021,469 since the pandemic first arrived in Germany. Additionally, the seven-day incidence rate per 100,000 people hit 289.0, marking yet another record.

Political and health officials are warning Germans that they could be facing harsh weeks ahead in light of the explosion of new cases. However, political leaders are not meeting until Thursday to hammer out how they will update their approach to the disease.

Employers could soon have an obligation to offer home office options for their workers, according to labour ministry plans drawn up in light of the higher infection numbers.

The draft, seen by dpa, says employers should offer a work-from-home option unless there is a "service-critical" reason for not doing so.

Likewise, employees should take up the offer unless they have a specific reason not to do so. A previous home office regulation expired at the end of June.

There has not been a final decision on the issue, however, between the three parties negotiating to form the next German government.

The political response to the latest coronavirus wave has been hamstrung by the fact that it came after national elections but before the likely next government has been able to hammer out an agreement on priorities and apportioning power, a prerequisite to taking office.

"I have never been as worried during this pandemic as I am now," said Susanne Johna, head of the Marburger Bund doctors' association.

The uptick is a particular shock since, during the first 18 months of the global pandemic, Germany has often been cited as one of the countries that has controlled the spread of the disease particularly well.

But now, hospitals are warning they are running out of capacity and space to help patients. Many procedures are being delayed due to the outbreak.

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