Germany is expected to extend a strict lockdown on Tuesday until the end of January in an effort to bring COVID-19 infections under control.
The German government and the country’s 16 federal states have agreed to extend a strict lockdown until Jan. 31, Bild newspaper reported on Monday, without providing a source.
Some, including Bavaria’s premier Markus Soeder, have already spoken in favour of an extension.
Speaking after the Bild report, a government source told Reuters, “All but two federal states support (a lockdown extension until) Jan. 31. However, the formal decision will be made on Tuesday.”
Germany was more successful than many European countries in keeping the coronavirus in check during the first wave in the spring but has seen a surge in new infections since the autumn.
“Given that infection rates are still too high it will be necessary to extend the restrictions,” Health Minister Jens Spahn said Monday.
Premier of Saxony, Michael Kretschmer said a continued shutdown was “unavoidable”.
It imposed a second hard lockdown on Dec. 16, closing schools, shops and restaurants after a partial lockdown introduced in early November did not bring the hoped-for reduction in new infections.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany, which has a total population of around 83 million, increased by 9,847 to 1.76 million in a day, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Monday. The reported death toll rose by 302 to 34,574.
The situation in Germany’s hospitals has become “extremely difficult”, a government spokesman told a news conference on Monday.
Like other European Union countries, Germany started vaccinating its population against COVID-19 in late December, but officials and media have expressed frustration with the slow rate of progress.
Only 265,986 people had received a first shot by Monday, according to the RKI.
This compares with more than a million people in Britain, which approved the vaccine developed by Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech earlier than the EU and also began inoculating with Oxford University and Astrazeneca’s vaccine on Monday.