Germany’s COVID-19 cases hit new record as labs warn of testing crunch

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FILE PHOTO: A label on a plastic vial containing a test for the coronavirus marks a priority test at the Wisplinghoff medical laboratory amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Cologne, Germany, December 20, 2021.

BERLIN – Germany on Thursday reported a record of more than 81,000 COVID-19 infections in a day as the government’s coronavirus crisis manager warned of possible bottlenecks in testing.

The previous daily record was on Wednesday with 80,430 new cases. Thursday’s death toll also rose by 316 to reach 115,051.

The head of Germany’s federal coronavirus crisis team Carsten Breuer said workers in critical infrastructure sectors will be prioritised if COVID-19 testing capacity tightens.

“As with all scarce resources, we will certainly have to pool capacities where necessary. This also applies to tests,” Breuer told Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach on Thursday said Germany had the means to handle the current coronavirus situation.

Germany’s labs association ALM on Tuesday said PCR testing rose by 56% in the first week of 2022 compared with the previous week.

Health authorities and laboratories in the north-western state of Bremen, which has the highest infection incidence in Germany, said the shortages were not in available PCR tests but in staff and testing capacity.

“That means there are delays until a PCR test is evaluated,” said Lukas Fuhrmann, spokesperson for Bremen’s health senate, adding that tests could now take up to 72 hours until they are evaluated.

Andreas Gerritzen, the director of MVZ Medical Laboratory in Bremen said demand on testing was twice as high as the laboratory could handle. Giving up on variant testing could ease the burden on labs, he said.


“Each variant testing is as complex as 2 normal PCR tests,” Gerritzen said, adding that the laboratory has shifted its capacity to cover the high demand. “There is no weekend and there is no night without activity. We are trying to cope with the corresponding figures with this special mission.”

(Reporting by Riham Alkousaa and Andreas Rinke, Editing by William Maclean)

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