Germany is facing a "very serious" rise in coronavirus cases, the head of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) disease control center said Thursday as the country reported 11,287 new infections, a sharp jump from the previous day and a record for the country since the outbreak of the pandemic.
The figure far exceeds the highest total to date of 7,830 recorded last Friday and is a steep jump from the 7,595 cases reported on Wednesday by RKI.
RKI chief Lothan Wieler noted that it is still possible to bring the virus under control through "systematic compliance with restrictive measures," but "the overall situation has become very serious," he added.
Wieler on Thursday blamed private gatherings, especially among young people, for the dramatic rise in cases.
"The more people gather in private circles, the more the numbers will increase and the further the virus will spread," he said, noting that "the young are currently the most exposed to this virus."
Wieler urged people to observe the rules but cautioned that an "uncontrolled" spread could be unavoidable in some regions. Due to the high rise in infections the country issued travel warnings taking effect on Oct. 24 for Switzerland, Ireland, Poland and most of Austria in a move aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19.
The head of the RKI public health institute, Wieler, said while the country must prepare for the possibility of the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19, it is still able to slow it.
The warning against unnecessary travel to Austria, which could have a big impact on the Alpine countries' winter tourism industry, excludes the province of Carinthia.
Germany, like many European countries, has been facing a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases for several weeks.
Faced with the rebound, authorities have toughened anti-pandemic measures such as banning large gatherings.
Local restrictions have also been imposed – in Berlin, it is now compulsory to wear a mask on certain busy streets.
On Saturday, Chancellor Angela Merkel asked citizens to cut down on socializing, encouraging them to stay at home instead.
"What winter will be, what our Christmas will be, will be decided in the days and weeks to come," she warned.
The country, hailed for its management of the first wave of the virus earlier this year, has in recent days broken several records for new infections in 24 hours.
At least 380,762 people have been infected in Germany so far, with 9,875 deaths.