Germany on Thursday reported its highest number of new coronavirus infections since mid-January, threatening the government’s plans to ease lockdown restrictions.

The Robert Koch Institute confirmed 22,657 more coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, up from 15,813 on Wednesday. The institute also reported 228 additional deaths.

Thursday’s figures marked the highest rise since Jan. 14, when 22,957 people tested positive for the virus.

The more contagious UK variant (B.1.1.7) of the virus has become the predominant strain in Germany this month, and it is currently making up more than 72% of the new cases.

As the country battles a third wave of coronavirus, hospitalizations and ICU patients have risen again in recent weeks, according to the DIVI association for emergency medicine.

Currently, 3,209 seriously ill COVID-19 patients are receiving treatment in intensive care units, with 1,734 of them on mechanical ventilators.

Germany has the fifth-highest tally of coronavirus infections in Europe, behind France, Spain, the UK, and Italy.

The national total now stands at more than 2.7 million cases with at least 75,440 fatalities.

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