The coronavirus transmission rate in Germany has increased this week, the country’s disease control agency said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a news conference in Berlin, Prof. Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), said the transmission rate has risen to the 1.0 threshold, meaning each person with coronavirus is now infecting one other person on average.

“This number should stay below 1.0, this is our major goal,” he stressed.

The transmission rate was nearly 3.0 last month, but following strict lockdown measures across the country, it declined to 1.3 on April 7, and further down to 0.7 on April 16.

Chancellor Angela Merkel repeatedly underlined the importance of getting this rate below 1.0, before discussing further relaxing the lockdown measures.

Last week, the government allowed small shops to reopen, but cafes, restaurants and large stores remain closed.

The death toll from coronavirus in Germany reached 6,128 on Tuesday, while the total number of cases neared 159,000, according to data analysis firm Risklayer and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

Almost 118,000 people have recovered from the virus so far, the Robert Koch Institute reported.

Germany has the fifth-highest tally of reported COVID-19 infections in the world, behind the US, Spain, Italy, and France. But its death toll remains far lower than other hard-hit countries.

After first appearing in China last December, the COVID-19 virus has spread to at least 185 countries and regions.

Data compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University shows worldwide infections surpassing 3 million with more than 211,300 deaths. Over 896,500 have recovered.

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