Germany has entered the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s disease control agency has confirmed in a confidential note, daily Handelsblatt reported on Thursday.

The Robert Koch Institute’s director, Lothar Wieler, shared their most recent findings with top officials during a video conference meeting this week, and informed them that “the fourth wave has started,” the daily reported.

Wieler has reportedly underlined the importance of maintaining anti-coronavirus measures as the “seven-day incidence rate,” a key indicator to forecast the epidemiological trends, has continued to rise in recent weeks.

Germany’s coronavirus cases had dropped to their lowest point at the end of June but began to rise again in recent weeks due to the highly contagious Delta variant.

On Thursday, the country recorded its highest daily coronavirus cases for nearly two months, as health officials confirmed 3,142 more infections in the past 24 hours.

The estimated active COVID-cases were 22,200, according to the latest figures.

The more transmissible Delta variant has become the predominant strain in the country earlier this month, and currently accounts for more than 84% of all new cases.

Despite a rapid increase in case numbers in recent weeks, hospitalizations and deaths stayed relatively low, compared to the first and second waves of the pandemic in Germany.

Health authorities confirmed 21 coronavirus-related fatalities on Thursday, down from 42 deaths reported a week ago.

Currently, 347 seriously ill coronavirus patients are receiving treatment in intensive care units.

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