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BERLIN: Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday called on all unvaccinated Germans to get their shots as quickly as possible as the country’s coronavirus infection rate hit the latest in a string of new highs and death numbers were growing.

“If we stand together, if we think about protecting ourselves and caring for others, we can save our country a lot this winter,” Merkel said in her weekly podcast.

Still, the chancellor warned that “these are very difficult weeks ahead of us”.

Germany’s disease control centre said that the country’s infection rate climbed to 277.4 new cases per 100,000 residents over seven days, up from 263.7 the previous day.

The Robert Koch Institute reported 45,081 new infections, two days after the daily total topped 50,000 for the first time.

Another 228 Covid-19 deaths brought Germany’s total in the pandemic so far to 97,617.

While the infection rate isn’t yet as high as in some other European countries, its relentless rise in Germany has set off alarm bells.

Outgoing Chancellor Merkel plans to meet with the country’s 16 state governors to coordinate nationwide measures next week, and parliament is mulling legislation that would provide a new legal framework for restrictions over the winter.

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