COVID-19: Germany and Russia Recorded Highest Number of Fatalities So Far
Germany is facing calls for a second lockdown before Christmas after recording 585 deaths and 29,875 new infections in one day - the highest numbers since the pandemic began.
"We have to act urgently. We have to do more than was previously planned," warned Economy Minister Peter Altmaier.
Russia and Ukraine also reported record numbers of fatalities on Friday.
However, the latest excess death statistics have cast doubt on the numbers announced in Russian updates.
Germany has been under partial lockdown since early November, shutting bars, restaurants and entertainment venues, and a relaxation had been planned over Christmas.
But the rise in infections has increasingly alarmed top officials, with Lothar Wieler, head of Germany's public healthy body, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), describing the situation as "extremely fragile". Chancellor Angela Merkel made an impassioned speech in the Bundestag (parliament) this week calling for tighter measures, saying that "500 deaths a day is unacceptable".
Scientists say that Germans are simply not doing enough to reduce their social contacts. Many also point the finger at regional leaders, who for months have resisted Angela Merkel's calls for a tougher, countrywide response to the outbreak.
Russia's pandemic task force says 613 deaths were recorded in the past 24 hours, bringing the total since the pandemic began to 45,893. Moscow and St Petersburg were worst hit.
However, official data about "excess" deaths - those above expected levels - has called this total into question. There were nearly 50,000 more "excess" deaths in October 2020 than in the same month last year.
Statistics service Rosstat said 22,761 of the October deaths were either confirmed or suspected Covid cases.
Official health figures were less than a third of that, but only count deaths listed by a post mortem examination as having coronavirus as the main cause.
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