Angela Merkel warns Germany is on cusp of stricter lockdown rules

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BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 22: Acting German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a speech as she visits the TUMO Learning Center on November 22, 2021 in Berlin, Germany. TUMO is a new learning center for young people that offers free courses in fields including robotics, computer programming, animation, photography, music production and graphic design. Merkel will be stepping down as chancellor once the Bundestag, Germany's parliament, elects her successor following federal parliamentary elections held last September. The German Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens Party and the German Free Democrats (FDP) are currently in negotiations for creating a new government coalition.  (Photo by Andreas Gora-Pool/Getty Images)
Angela Merkel has warned Germany is on the cusp of stricter lockdown rules. (Getty)

Germany's acting chancellor Angela Merkel has warned the country is on the cusp of stricter lockdown rules amid a surge in COVID infections across Europe.

Germany’s case numbers have been soaring, especially among the elderly, whose protection is waning after being vaccinated at the start of the year, and children who are not eligible for jabs.

Merkel told leaders of her conservative party Christian Democratic Union (CDU) that current measures were insufficient to stop the surge and stronger action was needed.

"We are in a highly dramatic situation. What is in place now is not sufficient," she said in a meeting, according to two participants.

Watch: 'Jabbed, cured or dead', Germany warns as Europe battles COVID surge

Europe is once again the epicentre of the global pandemic, with a major new surge in infections.

Many countries have brought back restrictions, including Austria, the first western European nation to reimpose a full national lockdown on Monday.

The Czech Republic and Slovakia have banned unvaccinated people from some facilities, including pubs.

The Netherlands imposed a partial lockdown on 13 November but infections have continued to surge.

Germany has already decided to limit large parts of public life in areas where hospitals are becoming full of COVID-19 patients to those who have either been vaccinated or have recovered from the illness.

But Merkel said neither those measures nor a higher uptake of vaccinations would be enough to halt the rapid rise of infections in the short run.

She called on Germany's 16 federal states to decide tough measures by Wednesday.

Germany’s outgoing health minister, Jens Spahn, said not enough people had been vaccinated.

He said: "It's quite probable by the end of the winter that pretty much everyone in Germany will have been vaccinated, have recovered or have died."

Spahn added: "Immunity will be achieved [by everyone]. The question is: will it be achieved through vaccination or infection? That's why we are urgently advising everyone to go the route of vaccination."

Around 79% of adults in Germany have had two shots of a COVID vaccine, but only 7.5% have received booster shots so far, as the total number of coronavirus deaths in Germany approaches 100,000.

A sign requesting visitors to wear protective face masks is seen outside a Christmas market at Alexanderplatz in Berlin on November 22, 2021. - Some of the German federal states on November 19, 2021 cancelled all their Christmas markets and unveiled drastic curbs on public life as the country scrambles to contain soaring coronavirus infections. (Photo by John MACDOUGALL / AFP) (Photo by JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP via Getty Images)
A Christmas market at Alexanderplatz in Berlin. (Getty)

In the UK, Boris Johnson has said he sees no need to introduce fresh restrictions despite rising cases across much of Europe.

The prime minister added: "You have got to be humble in the face of nature but at the moment we see nothing in the data to say that we need to move from plan A to plan B, or any other plan."

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On Monday, Dr David Nabarro, a World Health Organization (WHO) special envoy on COVID-19, warned the virus "has got so many surprises in store for us".

He said: “I’m really very, very anxious about what I’m seeing right across Europe, including now in western Europe.”

There were angry protests that turned violent in several countries at the weekend, including in Belgium and the Netherlands, over tougher COVID restrictions.

Germany reported 30,643 new cases of COVID on Monday and 62 deaths, with an incidence – the number of cases per 100,000 people over a week – of 386.5, a 15th consecutive day of record numbers.

Watch: Austria in nationwide lockdown amid soaring virus cases

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