Germany reported nearly 250,000 new coronavirus cases on Friday, marking the largest single-day increase since the pandemic started.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the country’s disease control agency, has confirmed 248,838 new COVID-19 infections in the past 24 hours and 170 coronavirus-related fatalities.

It was the second day in a row the country saw record number of daily cases, as health authorities reported 236,120 infections on Thursday.

According to the RKI, the highly infectious omicron variant has been the main reason behind the surge, and it now accounts for nearly 98% of the new infections.

The institute’s experts said in a recent report that the daily cases may jump to over 300,000 in the coming days, and the peak could be reached in mid-to-late-February.

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

As of Thursday, 2,262 COVID-19 patients were receiving treatment in intensive care units, and nearly 3,000 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 RKI has called on people to get vaccinated and boosted to protect themselves and those around them from the severe disease.

To date, around 74% of the population has been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, and nearly 54% of the people have received their booster shots.

Germany is among the countries hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in Western Europe, and it has recorded one of the highest caseloads in the region, behind France, the UK and Italy.

The country of 83 million has reported more than 10.6 million infections and nearly 118,500 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

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