Germany's Covid rates hit record

The unvaccinated are a key factor behind the country's outbreak

An empty terrace at a restaurant in Berlin, amid Covid-19 restrictions in Germany. Bloomberg

Germany has reported record Covid-19 infection rates as the country’s leading health experts warned the latest outbreak will get worse.

The country had 78,022 new cases on Saturday and 235 new deaths, the Robert Koch Institute said.

It also reported 497.1 new cases per 100,000 people in the previous week, beating the previous high of 485.1 in late November.

The figure was 470.6 on Friday and 335.9 a week earlier.

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“I expect this number to continue to rise with incidence rates probably over 1,000,” epidemiologist Tobias Kurth said.

“As many people are still not vaccinated, there is still a high chance that some of them will, unfortunately, end up in the hospital. For the health care system, this is still a very alarming situation.”

Germany is reeling from the latest wave, with the Omicron variant and unvaccinated patients both playing major roles in the outbreak.

The last week has also seen the worst day for new cases in a 24-hour period, with more than 92,000 on Thursday.

France, the Netherlands and the UK have all had major outbreaks of the Omicron variant.

France has largely tried to beat it with a health passport for vaccinated people, the UK went into a partial lockdown known as Plan B, and the Netherlands went into a more strict lockdown before Christmas.

The number of Covid patients in intensive care units in France fell for the third day in a row, health ministry data showed on Saturday.

France reported 3,852 patients were in intensive care units, 43 fewer than Friday. The number of people to have died of the disease in hospitals rose by 148 to 99,657.

The UK recorded 81,713 new cases and 287 deaths in the latest 24-hour period, down from 99,652 cases and 270 deaths the previous day.

The Dutch relaxed some of their toughest Covid restrictions on Saturday after hospital admissions dropped.

Shops, gyms, hairdressers and sports clubs will be allowed to do business until 5pm daily from Saturday, nearly a month after they were shut down over the Christmas and New Year period.

But restaurants, cafes and cultural locations will remain closed until at least January 25.

Updated: January 16, 2022, 5:58 AM