Angela Merkel urged unvaccinated Germans to get a COVID-19 jab to curb the spread of the virus during the winter.
“If we stand together, if we think about protecting ourselves and caring for others, we can save our country a lot this winter,” the outgoing German chancellor said in her weekly podcast, warning that “these are very difficult weeks ahead of us.”
Merkel asked people who hadn’t yet received the COVID-19 jab to reconsider their decision.
Infections have been rising in Germany for weeks as Europe battles a new virus surge during the winter.
Germany’s Robert Koch Institute reported 45,081 new infections, two days after the daily total topped 50,000 for the first time.
Another 228 COVID-19 deaths brought Germany’s total in the pandemic so far to 97,617.
The 7-day incidence rate in the country was 277 cases per 100,000 people, up from 169 cases per 100,000 people eight days ago.
“I am asking you: Join us, and try to convince relatives and friends as well,” Merkel told people who hadn’t yet been vaccinated.
She also urged people to get a booster dose of a coronavirus vaccine, calling it “a real chance to break the severe fall and winter wave of the pandemic.”
So far, around 67% of the population in Germany is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Europe and Central Asia are once again at the “epicentre” of the global pandemic, the World Health Organization’s regional director Hans Kluge warned over a week ago.