Merkel: 'Sad day' as Germany marks 100,000 deaths from COVID

APTOPIX Virus Outbreak Germany

BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel labelled Thursday “a very sad day” and backed calls for more restrictions, as her country became the latest to surpass 100,000 deaths from COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

The national disease control agency said it recorded 351 deaths in connection with the coronavirus over the past 24 hours, taking the total toll to 100,119. In Europe, Germany is the fifth country to pass that mark, after Russia, the United Kingdom, Italy and France.

“It is of course a very sad day that we have to mourn 100,000 victims of the coronavirus,” Merkel said at a news conference in Berlin. “And unfortunately, at the moment, more than 300 deaths are being added to that each day.”

The long-time German leader, who is currently in office as caretaker until her successor is sworn in, warned that hundreds more deaths were already looming.

“(The deaths) correlate very clearly with the number of infections that are occurring,” she said. “We know how many people on average do not survive this disease.”

The Robert Koch Institute, a federal agency that collects data from some 400 regional health offices, said Germany set a record for daily confirmed cases — 75,961 — in the past 24-hour period. Since the start of the outbreak, Germany has had more than 5.57 million confirmed cases of COVID-19.

“The situation is so serious because we are still in an exponential growth and because the cases that we see getting sick today are basically the patients who will be in intensive care in 10 or 14 days,” Merkel said.

She welcomed an announcement by Germany's government-in-waiting on Wednesday that it will create a new permanent expert group to advise officials on how to tackle the pandemic.

While the number of daily infections is higher than that seen during the last winter surge, there are currently fewer daily deaths per confirmed cases. Experts argue this is because of vaccinations, which reduce the likelihood of serious illness.