GERMANY’S daily Covid death toll has hit a new high of more than 1,100 victims in 24 hours.
The country has hit the grim milestone despite being in a tough national lockdown since December 16, with shops, bars and schools shut until January 10.
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At the start of pandemic, Germany saw low infection rates in comparison to neighbouring countries, but recently has been reporting hundreds of deaths per day.
Today, Berlin’s Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases announced 1,129 deaths had been recorded in the last 24 hour period – the highest number since the start of the pandemic – as well as 22,459 new infections.
In total, Germany has reported more than 1.6million cases, and 32,420 deaths.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and state governors are due to meet next week to review the situation and the country’s sweeping lockdown measures.
It comes just days after Europe began to rollout its Covid vaccine programme – almost three weeks behind the UK.
EU officials hope to deliver the vaccinations to more than 300 million people by the end of 2021 to stem the killer bug which has so far claimed more than 336,000 lives across the continent and infected 16 million people.
Meanwhile in the Netherlands, dozens of hospitals are unable to provide ‘critically planned care’ due to increasing numbers of Covid patients and staff shortages, according to Het Parool.
Hospitals across Europe are grappling with growing numbers of Covid cases.
Deaths are also increasing in Italy, where more than 28,000 people have died since September 1.
Instead of imposing another national lockdown, the Italian government had divided the country divided the country into three risk zones with different restrictions – similar to the UK’s tier system.
But officials ordered a lockdown over Christmas and New Year, with the whole country classified as “red” – the highest level of restrictions in a bid to battle a surge in coronavirus deaths.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced rules just days before Christmas, ordering people to stay at home and closing all restaurants and non-essential shops on December 24-27, from New Year’s Eve to January 3 and on January 5-6.
In Denmark, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced local restrictions that close restaurants, bars, theatres and cinemas until the end of the year.
In France, the country went back into a national lockdown in October and extended it.
Spain is under a nationwide curfew and state of emergency until May 2021.
Public and private gatherings are limited to six people and face coverings are required on transport and indoor public spaces.
Sweden – one country that controversially never went into lockdown – has seen a sharp increase in infection rates.
The government has tightened restrictions on public gatherings while high schools have been told to switch to distance learning for the rest of the term.