German COVID cases hit record as parliament debates vaccine mandate

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BERLIN, Jan 26 (Reuters) – Germany on Wednesday reported a new record of 164,000 COVID-19 infections in one day as the lower house of parliament prepared to debate proposals to either require or robustly encourage residents to be vaccinated.

Around 75% of the population has received at least one dose of a vaccine – less than in other western European countries such as France, Italy or Spain, where the equivalent figures are 80%, 83% and 86% – and the vaccination campaign is stuttering.

The proposals being debated include requiring all adult residents to be vaccinated against COVID-19, or only those above 50, or merely requiring all those who have not been vaccinated to receive counselling.

Early on in the coronavirus pandemic, Germany was more successful than many of its peers in limiting infections through case tracking and quarantines.

But since last summer, vaccine-scepticism and a falloff in regional coordination have taken their toll, and public discontent has grown.

The highly contagious Omicron variant, in particular, has sent cases soaring.

The 166 deaths recorded on Wednesday took Germany’s cumulative COVID-19 toll to 117,126.

Various calls for protests to take place in front of the Reichstag parliament building before and during the debate were distributed on the messaging service Telegram.

Opponents of compulsory vaccination say it violates the second article of the constitution, which guarantees citizens control over their own bodies.

In an Allensbach survey published on Wednesday by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, the share of those who could imagine themselves taking part in protests against anti-coronavirus measures had doubled to 12% in the space of a year.

(Reporting by Riham Alkousaa; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

Photo – An inflatable airdancer doll points out a test station for coronavirus rapid tests, in Duesseldorf, Germany. EPA-EFE/SASCHA STEINBACH

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