Germany tops two million coronavirus cases

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The number of coronavirus infections in Germany has risen above two million, and the number of deaths reached almost 45,000, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases shows.

Alarmed by the high infection rate, the number of deaths and recent COVID-19 mutations, Chancellor Angela Merkel told a meeting of top officials from her party on Thursday that she wants "very fast action".

She plans to bring forward a meeting with regional leaders initially planned for January 25 to discuss tougher measures.

The prime minister of Rhineland-Palatine, Malu Dreyer, hopes for new consultations to take place early next week, "hopefully on Tuesday", she told broadcaster ZDF on Friday.

Germany's coronavirus cases increased by 22,368 to 2,000,958 in a day, according to RKI data on Friday. The reported death toll rose by 1113 to 44,994.

The country of 83 million initially managed the pandemic better than its neighbours with a strict lockdown last spring. But it has seen a sharp rise in cases and deaths in recent months, and daily per capita mortality since mid-December has often exceeded the US rate.