Germany on Friday reported a record number of daily coronavirus cases, with more than 140,000 new infections.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the country’s disease control agency, confirmed 140,160 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, and 170 coronavirus-related fatalities.

The highly contagious omicron variant has been the driving force behind the new surge, according to the RKI, and the variant now accounts for 89% of sequenced coronavirus cases in the country.

Health authorities estimate that currently 1,166,100 people are sick with COVID-19.

Despite the surge in new cases, hospital admissions for COVID-19 remained relatively low, and authorities reported an average of 3.77 hospitalizations per 100,000 residents.

As of Thursday, 2,447 patients were receiving treatment in ICUs, the lowest rate since mid-November. More than 3,100 intensive care beds were free.

Public health officials are warning that while the majority of omicron cases have been mild so far, the variant is spreading rapidly, and could still overwhelm the healthcare system, if cases continue to climb dramatically.

The government has stepped up its vaccination campaign to curb the spread of omicron, and health authorities are calling on people to get their booster shots to protect themselves from COVID-19.

To date, 73% of Germany’s population of 83 million has been fully vaccinated against coronavirus, and nearly 50% of the people have received their booster shots.

Experts say booster shots are necessary against the omicron variant, as immunity from the initial doses starts wearing off over time. A third dose is providing a high level of protection against the variant, according to preliminary lab studies.

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