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Germany approved new measures on Thursday to curb record coronavirus infections as Chancellor Angela Merkel called the pandemic situation in the country “very serious” and said it was “high time” to stop the spread of the virus.

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“The situation is extremely dramatic and now it will be very important to act quickly, to act consistently, to have better control,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin on Thursday night. She previously held a videoconference with Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Germany’s 16 state governors to coordinate the country’s response to the rise in coronavirus cases.

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Merkel said meeting participants had agreed that future tightening of measures against the virus was linked to the number of hospital admissions of COVID-19 patients per 100,000 people over a seven-day period Will go States are also considering compulsory vaccination for certain professional groups such as medical staff and nursing home workers.

Earlier on Thursday, lawmakers in the Bundestag passed legislation to rein in the virus with votes from centre-left Social Democrats, environmentalist Greens and pro-business Free Democrats. The three parties are currently in talks to form a new government.

The new measures include requirements for employees to prove that they have been vaccinated, recently recovered from COVID-19 or tested negative for the virus to access communal workplaces; The same rule would apply to public transport. The measures need to be approved by Germany’s upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, which could take place on Friday.

Outgoing Chancellor Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democrats wanted to expand existing rules that expire this month and which have served as the basis for a number of national and state-wide restrictions since March 2020. In the future, only 16 of Germany’s states will be able to implement. Ban on cultural and sporting events if their regional legislatures approve the measure.

Merkel’s party criticized the new rules, saying they would undermine the tools at the disposal of officials at a time when infections are on the rise again.

Germany’s disease control agency, the Robert Koch Institute, reported 65,371 new daily infections, breaking a previous 24-hour record and continuing an upward trend that experts have warned about for weeks. Total deaths near 100,000 with 264 reported on Wednesday alone.

“We are currently heading towards a serious emergency,” the institute’s director, Lothar Weiler, said during an online debate late Wednesday. “We’ll have a really terrible Christmas if we don’t take measures now.”

Weiler said Germany needed to increase its COVID-19 vaccination rate, which now stands at 67.7%, which is more than 75%.

Germany is dealing with a high number of new coronavirus infections and a high number of Covid-19 cases.

The eastern state of Saxony, which has the country’s lowest vaccination rate of 57.6%, is set to impose a limited lockdown in response to rising infection numbers.

Governor Michael Kreischmer said the state government would decide on Friday on a “hard and clear wave breaker” lasting two to three weeks.

Official figures show Saxony had more than 761 new confirmed cases per 100,000 residents in the past week, the highest rate in Germany.

Germany’s independent vaccine advisory panel said on Thursday it recommends booster shots for everyone over the age of 18. Merkel said everything would be done to provide a booster shot against the virus as soon as possible. She said about 27 million people need to get booster shots soon.

Weiler, the head of the Disease Control Agency, warned that hospitals across Germany are struggling to find beds for COVID-19 patients and those with other illnesses.

Hospitals in the southeastern district of Rottal-In this week appealed to nurses and doctors to be contacted, saying it “could use the help of every hand (every hand) to deal with this difficult situation.”

Neighboring Austria confirmed 15,145 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, officials said on Thursday.

The country imposed a lockdown on people without vaccinations this week. But two states – Salzburg and Upper Austria – are set to expand the measure to vaccinated people as well.

In the capital, Vienna, officials sent unsolicited vaccination appointments to about 340,000 residents who have not yet received a shot.