One of Germany’s top health officials has said the country’s third coronavirus wave could be its worst yet.
Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute, suggested it would be worse than the first and second waves if people don’t reduce their social contacts over Easter.
Wieler also warned there could be as many as 100,000 infections a day if the spread is not curbed.
It is thought over 100,000 people a day were contracting the virus in the UK at the peak of its first wave in early April when there were more than 1,000 deaths a day.
In the first wave of the pandemic a year ago, Germany was praised for its handling of the virus, and was one of the first European countries to begin opening up.
However, the more transmissible Kent variant of COVID-19 is now causing a third spike in infections - while Germany’s rollout of the vaccine has also been slow.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, meanwhile, is also under pressure after cancelling a planned lockdown earlier this week.
On Thursday, the seven-day average of new cases in Germany was 15,050, according to Oxford University’s Our World in Data website. This was double the number – 7,837 – a month earlier on 25 February.
However, while cases are on the increase in Germany, it is far from being in the worst situation in Europe.
When Thursday's new cases worldwide are measured per one million people, Germany is currently the 44th highest in the world at 258 per one million. France is the highest at 1,612 per one million. The UK had 92 per one million.
The UK has been in a much tougher lockdown compared to many nations on the continent for months, and is only just beginning to make its first steps out of restrictions.
Watch: Merkel admits Easter virus shutdown plan her 'mistake'
Wieler’s warning on Friday demonstrates the expectation that cases in Germany are set to rapidly increase over the next few days.
Germany's situation was further brought into focus by Merkel’s extraordinary decision on Wednesday to cancel a strict lockdown over Easter, between 1 and 5 April.
Merkel, who had announced it on Monday, said it “could not be implemented well enough” in the short time period.
Germany’s situation reflects the overall picture in Europe, which has seen a 13% week-on-week increase in cases.
Boris Johnson has also warned this third wave will eventually “wash up on our shores” – though the UK has the advantage of having overseen one of the world’s most successful vaccine rollouts. As of Wednesday, the UK had administered more than three times the number of doses per 100 people than Germany.
During a heated exchange with Labour MP Yvette Cooper on Wednesday, however, Johnson admitted his 'concern' about people entering the UK from France, where the South Africa and Brazil variants of the virus have been seen. He also hinted at tougher measures will be imposed at the border.
Watch: How England is leaving lockdown