Germany hit by record surge in Covid cases
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Germany on Thursday saw its biggest daily rise in Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began, figures from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) health agency showed.
The country recorded 33,949 new cases in the past 24 hours, the RKI said, beating the previous daily record of 33,777 on December 18, 2020.
Cases have been rising sharply over the past few weeks, with Health Minister Jens Spahn warning on Wednesday that a fourth wave was raging "with exceptional force".
Ministers have blamed Germany's relatively low vaccination rate for the surge, with just 66.9 percent of the population fully inoculated as of Thursday, according to official figures.
Health professionals say unvaccinated people account for the majority of patients in intensive care, with numbers rising rapidly.
"We are currently experiencing mainly a pandemic of the unvaccinated and it is massive," Spahn said on Wednesday, warning that "in some regions in Germany intensive care beds are running out again".
The incoming coalition parties have so far ruled out mandatory jabs and said there will be no new lockdowns -- at least not for the vaccinated.
Angela Merkel's chief of staff Helge Braun on Wednesday called for an urgent meeting between the caretaker government and the leaders of Germany's 16 states to agree common rules.
Some states, including Baden-Wuerttemberg, Saxony and Bavaria, have already agreed or introduced tougher restrictions on the unvaccinated.