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German Health Minister urges tightened COVID-19 measures

BERLIN – Germany’s health minister on Friday urged the country’s 16 states to consider stepping up their measures against the coronavirus amid a surge in new cases.

Karl Lauterbach said he is in favor of wearing a mask indoors, a measure that has largely faded in Germany except on public transport, medical facilities and care homes.

“The direction we are going is not the right one,” Lauterbach told reporters in Berlin.

He added that it would be better for states to impose limited restrictions now than stricter ones later. “The sooner we step on the brakes, the better it will be.”

German authorities have recorded more than 114,000 newly confirmed cases and 165 COVID-related deaths in the past 24 hours.

An increase in the number of cases in Bavaria has been linked to the recent Oktoberfest, which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.

Lauterbach said more could have been done to limit the spread of the virus at the Munich beer festival, such as offering or mandating on-site testing for visitors.

The Department of Health launched a new ad campaign Friday worth nearly €33 million ($32 million), using 84 case studies of real people affected by COVID-19 to encourage vaccinations.

Lauterbach said getting the shot remains an important way to protect yourself and others. The risk of death for people over 60 drops by 90% if they receive a fourth injection, he said.

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