BERLIN

Germany reported 208,498 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, its highest-ever daily rise since the pandemic started.

According to the country’s disease control agency, the highly infectious omicron variant has been the main reason behind the surge, and it accounts for nearly 95% of the new infections.

The Robert Koch Institute said it estimates that 2,278,900 people are currently sick with COVID-19, which is also an all-time high for the country.

Despite the surge in new cases, hospital admissions for COVID-19 remained relatively low, and authorities reported an average of 4.77 hospitalizations per 100,000 residents.

As of Tuesday, 2,257 patients were receiving treatment in intensive care units, and nearly 3,100 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.

German Hospital Federation chairman Gerald Gass warned against relaxing anti-coronavirus measures too soon, although neighboring countries such as Denmark, Netherlands and Austria announced more steps toward easing COVID-19 restrictions.

“In my view, we can talk about relaxing some of the measures only after we pass the omicron wave,” he told the Rheinische Post newspaper on Wednesday.

Experts say new infections are likely to increase in the coming days and expected to reach a peak around mid-February.

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 number of cases in the country of 83 million has surpassed 10 million, along with nearly 118,200 related deaths.

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