Germany reports record 487 COVID-19 deaths in 24 hours

BERLIN, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- The number of daily COVID-19 deaths in Germany increased by 487 in 24 hours and reached a new record on Wednesday, bringing the total death toll in the country to 17,123, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said.

The number of new daily COVID-19 infections also remained high and increased by 17,270, now totaling over 1.08 million cases, according to the RKI. Germany is currently in an extended lockdown until Dec. 20, which includes strict contact restrictions and the closure of all restaurants and bars.

COVID-19 outbreaks in Germany were being recorded "particularly in households and increasingly in nursing and long-term care homes," but also in schools and daycare facilities for children, according to the RKI's latest daily situation report.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned of a third COVID-19 wave on Monday. "We will still have to be very, very careful in the winter," she stressed.

Meanwhile, the German pharmaceutical company BioNTech SE and the U.S. company Pfizer Inc. announced on Wednesday that they had received the world's first approval for a COVID-19 vaccine.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the United Kingdom granted temporary authorization for emergency use for the COVID-19 vaccine BNT162b2, BioNTech and Pfizer announced in a joint statement.

"All levels are working hard to prepare for these future vaccinations," said German Minister of Health Jens Spahn on Tuesday during his visit to the future COVID-19 vaccination center in the city of Duesseldorf, which can administer up to 2,400 vaccinations per day.

Germany is aiming to have COVID-19 vaccination centers up and running by mid-December. "We are preparing to supply several tens of millions of citizens with a vaccine within a very short time," promised Spahn.

As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, countries including Germany, China, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States are racing to find a vaccine.

According to the website of the World Health Organization, as of Nov. 26, there were 213 COVID-19 candidate vaccines being developed worldwide, and 49 of them were in clinical trials.

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