BA.5 becomes dominant COVID-19 variant in Germany

BERLIN, June 24 (Xinhua) -- The Omicron sub-lineage BA.5 became the dominant COVID-19 variant in Germany, accounting for around half of infections, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases.

"The strong increase in share of this variant has continued together with BA.4 and BA.2.12.1," the RKI said in its weekly report on Thursday. With the increasing spread of these more contagious variants, a "rebound in infection numbers" was also been observed.

Daily COVID-19 infections continued to rise as 108,190 new cases were registered on Friday, according to the RKI. Germany's seven-day COVID-19 incidence rate climbed from 533 infections per 100,000 inhabitants on the previous day to 618.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach is supporting expert demands to vaccinate or booster 40 million people before winter. "BA.5 is not harmless. In winter we must be very well prepared, otherwise chaos is looming," he said on Twitter.

Lauterbach will present the country's COVID-19 health measures for the coming fall after examining the results of an expert report on the effectiveness of past COVID-19 measures, which is set to be completed in early July.

Although businesses in Germany are supporting to prepare in time, specific measures in fall and winter should be carefully evaluated, the German Retail Federation (HDE) said earlier this week.

In order to avoid last year's shortfalls, Germany is procuring a wide range of vaccines. These include vaccines adapted to the Omicron variant, the Ministry of Health said. In addition, "vaccination gaps are to be closed."

Of the 69.4 million adults in Germany aged 18 and over, around 85 percent are vaccinated against COVID-19. Almost 72 percent have received one booster vaccination, while 8 percent have already received two booster doses, according to official figures.

Although Germany was one of the last countries in the European Union to drop restrictions for travelers entering from another EU member state, most restrictions on public life have now been lifted.

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