A full lockdown heading into the Christmas season can no longer be ruled out, the premier of the eastern German state of Saxony said on Thursday.
This is as the country passed the grim milestone of 100,000 COVID-19 deaths.
Speaking to the Saechsische Zeitung regional newspaper, Michael Kretschmer said: “The threat (of a lockdown) cannot be dismissed.”
“It can only be stopped if there is a collective understanding and common awareness of the need to avoid contact and observe the measures.”
As premier of one of the states, worst hit by the pandemic, Kretschmer predicted hospitals would struggle to take in more patients.
“We are currently preparing the transfer of patients to other states.”
“This possibility is still there and we will use it,” he said.
He expressed concerns at long queues at vaccination centres and said the state health ministry was working to improve the situation. Saxony has the lowest vaccination rate in Germany at 57.9 per cent of the total population being fully vaccinated.
But Kretschmer came out against mandatory vaccination while calling for a campaign to convince people to get their jabs.
The seven-day incidence rate of infections in the state passed 1,000 per 100,000 people in the state, reaching 1074.6 early on Thursday, according to figures from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the official disease control body.
The situation in neighbouring Thuringia was a little better, with the seven-day rate hitting 773.2, the second-highest in Germany after Saxony.
State premier, Bodo Ramelow, backed proposals by the incoming coalition to set up a pandemic crisis staff but said they were making a mistake in allowing country-wide emergency legislation to expire.
New provisions take effect from Friday that does not permit wide-scale lockdowns of schools and public life in general.
Ramelow expressed strong criticism of people refusing to get vaccinated.
The full vaccination rate in Thuringia stands at 62.2 per cent of the whole population, third-lowest behind Saxony and Brandenburg and well behind the national rate of 68.2 per cent.
Bavarian Interior Minister, Joachim Herrmann, issued a call on Thursday for a general mandate for vaccination.
“If we do not reach the necessary vaccination rate on a voluntary basis, then mandatory vaccination is the only way,” he told the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung newspaper.
Last week, Bavarian premier, Markus Soeder, became the first state leader to raise the prospect of compulsory vaccination.
Figures from the RKI published early on Thursday took the toll of people in the country who died from or with COVID-19 up to 100,119.
The number of infections recorded in a day also passed 70,000 for the first time, with health authorities reporting 75,961 cases in 24 hours. This compares to 65,371 new infections a week earlier.
The latest seven-day incidence is 419.7 – another record high since the pandemic began.
A day earlier, it was 404.5 and a week earlier it was 336.9.
The figure is a measure of infections per 100,000 people in the last week.
Across Germany, 351 new daily deaths were recorded, compared to 264 a week earlier.
The RKI has counted 5,573,756 coronavirus infections since the pandemic began.
The true figure is thought to be much higher since many cases go undetected.