Germany has recorded its highest daily rise in COVID-19 infections since the beginning of the pandemic.
The Robert Koch Institute revealed on Thursday morning than 6,638 people had been confirmed positive for the virus over the previous 24 hours. The previous record rise of 6,294 was registered on March 28.
Germany has fared considerably better than its neighbours in the fight against SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — with a death toll of 9,710 and a number of infections just slightly over 341,000.
But like the rest of Europe, it has observed a resurgence of the virus in recent weeks and responded with new measures — the latest of which were unveiled on Wednesday by Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Facemask requirements are to be extended in areas where the incidence rate is higher than 35 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Bars and restaurants will also be required to close early while gatherings will be limited to 25 people in public and 15 people in private spaces.
The agreement struck by the federal government and the 16 states also plans for further measures should the incidence rate not improve within 10 days and urges people to avoid all non-essential domestic travel to and from areas where 50 new cases per 100,000 population were recorded over a weekly period.
The government stressed that a higher incidence rate would make contact tracing "impossible" and would therefore lead to a jump in cases and deaths.
"I am convinced that what we do now will be decisive for how we come through this pandemic," she added
"We must stop this exponential rise, the quicker the better," she added. "If we don't, this won't end well."
Several large cities including Berlin, Cologne and Frankfurt where the number of infections has spiked in recent weeks had already brought in restrictions such as cubs on night-life.
Germany's new measures were unveiled just hours before France announced that a curfew from 9pm to 6am would come into force in Paris and eight other major cities from Saturday at midnight
Health authorities revealed on Wednesday afternoon that more than 22,500 new infections had been confirmed over the previous 24 hours. The French death toll, meanwhile, rose by 104 to 33,037
Further restrictions were also announced on Wednesday in Northern Ireland and Catalonia with bars and restaurants ordered shut.
More than 197,000 people are known to have lost their lives to COVID-19 in the European Union/EEA and the UK — the second-highest regional death toll behind the Americas.