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Germany has been plunged into a “nationwide state of emergency” because of its current high level of Covid infections, acting health minister Jens Spahn has said. He also refused to rule out further lockdowns.

The situation is serious, the dynamic is unbroken,” Spahn told a press conference Friday.

The incidence has increased fivefold in four weeks. We see sadly high values in the death rate. We are in a national emergency.”

Spahn refused to rule out the possibility of another lockdown, saying that, in such a drastic health situation, “we can’t rule anything out.”

The head of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Lothar Wieler, added to the gloomy picture by saying that “all of Germany is one big outbreak,” with an estimated half a million active Covid cases in the country – and numbers rising. For the third day in a row, more than 50,000 cases have been registered in the country, while the death toll in Germany since the start of the pandemic is above 98,700, according to figures compiled by the RKI.

Wieler added that, with many hospitals already overwhelmed, more should be done to tackle the spread of the virus. Besides obvious measures such as vaccination and wearing masks, he also suggested closing poorly ventilated bars.

On Thursday, lawmakers in the Bundestag approved new measures in the fight against coronavirus, including requirements to prove vaccination status, a negative test, or proof of recovery from infection before employees can access communal workspaces or use public transport. The measures will have to be passed by the upper house before they can take effect.

Neighboring Austria announced on Friday that it would enter full lockdown as of Monday, November 22.

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