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World News

Germany can cope with rising number of infections for now - RKI

FILE PHOTO: Medical staff perform COVID-19 testing at the Hochfelln service station on the A8 motorway near the town of Bergen, Germany, August 13, 2020. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s health authorities can cope with the rising number of infections at present, the deputy director of the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases told Reuters, but urged people to do everything to help reverse the trend.

The number of new daily cases in Germany has been rising steadily since early July and has accelerated in recent weeks, driven by partying and people returning from holiday in countries where there is a high risk of catching the virus.

On Thursday, the number of confirmed cases climbed by 1,707 to 228,621, marking the biggest daily increase since April 26.

“At the moment, the numbers are rising a little slower than in spring - that’s good - but as long as they are rising this is of course not a pleasant development,” RKI deputy director Lars Schaade told Reuters television.

“The growth is still there and we hope of course that the growth will start to slow down in the next few days. Everyone can help,” he said, urging people not to travel to high-risk countries and to stick to social-distancing and hygiene rules.

He said Germany’s health authorities were currently in a good position to carry out contact tracing, despite the growing number of infections, but said at a certain level they might need to concentrate on just large outbreaks.

Almost half of the cases registered by the RKI were coming from people returning from holiday, Schaade said. Earlier on Thursday, Germany issued a warning against travel to parts of Croatia.

Schaade also rejected calls to consider relaxing restrictions for large events. “I think at the very least the number of cases needs to be stable again and not rising further, or at best falling again.”

Health Minister Jens Spahn told lawmakers the next “carnival season” - a series of public celebrations and other events which start on Nov. 11 and end in mid-February, should be cancelled due to the pandemic, parliamentary sources told Reuters.

Reporting by Gabi Sajonz-Grimm; Writing by Caroline Copley; editing by David Evans

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