Germany's COVID caseload makes biggest leap in two weeks

A paediatrician wearing a protective suit takes a swab sample from a patient for a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) instant test at his medical office in Berlin, Germany December 18, 2020. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/Files

BERLIN (Reuters) -Germany's coronavirus caseload took its biggest jump in two weeks on Thursday, with over 28,000 new infections, the Robert Koch Institute said, adding heft to worries about restrictions this winter.

The number of new infections per 100,000 people over seven days - one of the metrics used to determine policy measures - stands at 130.2, up 12.2 points from 118.0 the previous day. New infections have been steadily creeping up since mid-October.

The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units (ICUs) has risen 15% within a week, the head of the German Hospital Federation (DKG), Gerald Gass, told the Redaktionsnetwork Deutschland media group.

If the trend continues, he said, there could be 3,000 cases in the ICU in two weeks.

"Even if the hospitals could handle it, it would not be possible without constraints on normal operations," Gass said.

SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach told the Rheinische Post newspaper that lockdowns or school closures were not on the cards, but the decision on whether to lift safety measures such as mask mandates would depend on the situation in spring.

The three political parties in talks to form the next government have said they do not support extending a pandemic-related state of emergency set to expire on Nov. 25.

Instead, they have recommended amending Germany’s Infection Protection Act to allow states to impose protective measures.

State leaders fear a patchwork of different regulations in each region could make them harder to enforce.

(Reporting by Miranda Murray; Editing by Christina Fincher)

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