COVID-19 infections and deaths in Germany likely to rise further - RKI

People walk across Viktualienmarkt as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Munich, Germany, December 9, 2020. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert

BERLIN (Reuters) - Coronavirus infections and related deaths in Germany are likely to rise further in the coming weeks, a senior health official at the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases (RKI) said on Thursday.

The current rise in COVID-19 infections is worrying, RKI chief Lothar Wieler said. "The situation is still very serious and has deteriorated over the past week. Currently we are seeing a rise in infections."

The head of RKI's surveillance unit, Ute Rexroth, said the rise in cases especially in the federal states of Thuringia, Brandenburg and Saxony-Anhalt was worrying,

Germany's reported COVID-19 death toll is still rising sharply, increasing by 440 to 20,372 over the past 24 hours, RKI data showed on Thursday.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Germany increased by 23,679 to 1,242,203, setting a new record daily rise, according to the RKI data. The previous record was an increase of 23,648 reported on Nov. 20.

Europe's largest economy has been in partial lockdown for six weeks, with bars and restaurants closed but shops and schools open. That has stopped the coronavirus's exponential growth, but the second wave of COVID-19 is proving far more difficult to tame and is extracting a heavier human toll than the first one.

(Reporting by Caroline Copley and Kirsti Knolle; editing by Thomas Seythal and Maria Sheahan)

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