The worrying increase came just days after Chancellor Angela Merkel began easing restrictions after mounting pressure from the nation’s 16 federal states. Karl Lauterbach, a Social Democrat politician and professor of epidemiology, said: “It has to be expected that the R rate will go over one and we will return to exponential growth.
“The loosening measures were far too poorly prepared.”
But Frau Merkel said that she had the power to reimpose tighter restrictions if infections picked up after allowing restaurants, hotels and all stores to open.
German leaders have also had to contend with violent protests against their pandemic restrictions by conspiracy theorists and those who believe the virus is harmless.
China and South Korea also reported new spikes in infections following a dramatic decline in positive cases and deaths.
China reported its first double-digit rise in 10 days yesterday, with 14 cases.
Eleven of 12 domestic infections were in the north-eastern province of Jilin, which prompted authorities to raise the threat level in Shulan, to high risk, just days after downgrading all regions to low risk.
South Korea reported 34 more cases as new infections linked to nightclub goers threatened the country’s progress against the deadly virus.
It was the first time that South Korea’s daily infections were above 30 in nearly a month.
The concerns came as other European countries continued lifting restrictions.
France, which has a similar number of infections as Germany but a far higher death toll, will allow some pupils to return to school after almost two months at home.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said: “The risk of a second wave – which would hit our already fragile hospitals and would need us to reimpose confinement and waste the efforts and sacrifices we’ve already made – is serious.”
People in some Spanish regions will be able to enjoy limited seating at bars and restaurants from today but Madrid and Barcelona, the country’s largest cities, will remain under strict restrictions.
In Holland, hairdressers and libraries will return to normal while Israel, Turkey and Cyprus have eased restrictions.
In the US President Barack Obama criticised his successor Donald Trump over his response to the coronavirus crisis calling it “an absolute chaotic disaster”.
He said: “It would have been bad even with the best of government.
“It has been an absolute chaotic disaster when that mindset of ‘what’s in it for me’ and ‘to heck with everybody else’, when that mindset is operationalised in our government.”
The country’s death toll is the highest in the world at more than 79,000 but some states have lifted their lockdowns.
This was despite President Trump saying 95,000 or more people were expected to die from COVID-19.
Two people who work at the White House tested positive last week.
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