The share of Covid-19 cases caused by the more infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus more than doubled in Germany within a week and is likely to become even more dominant, a senior health official said on Monday.
Lothar Wieler, president of the Robert Koch Institute public health agency, told officials that a genome sequencing analysis showed the Delta strain accounting for 36 per cent of infections in the week to June 20.
Given the fast spread of the newer variant and the slow analysis of the detailed data, Mr Wieler estimated that the Delta variant now already represented more than 50 per cent of registered cases, an official at the meeting said.
Bavarian Premier Markus Soeder said earlier on Monday that he expected the Delta variant, first identified in India, to become the dominant strain in Germany by summer.
Cases caused by the variant have also been surging in other countries.
"Ignoring the Delta variant would be a serious mistake," Mr Soeder said.
He said no one should think problems related to the more infectious variant would just go away.
Mr Soeder urged citizens to be vaccinated as this would offer the best protection against the coronavirus.
In Germany, about 54 per cent of the population has received a first dose and about 35 per cent are fully vaccinated.
Health officials say the spread of the disease can be slowed and the number of cases, people needing hospital treatment and Covid-19 deaths reduced if a high percentage of the population is vaccinated.