Daily coronavirus cases in Germany hit a new record of 21,506 on Friday, the highest single-day increase since the beginning of the pandemic.

Virus-related fatalities were also on the rise, with 166 further deaths over the last 24 hours, according to data released by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).

COVID-19 admissions to intensive care units (ICUs) have continued to grow, putting pressure on the country’s health system. 

As of Thursday, 2,653 coronavirus patients were receiving treatment in ICUs, up from 1,030 two weeks ago, according to the DIVI association for emergency medicine.

The availability of ICU beds fell to 24%, meaning that currently, 6,500 beds are free.

German health authorities have repeatedly warned that while the country has plenty of ICU beds, hospitals might soon be short-staffed amid a sharp increase in the number of coronavirus patients.

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

The national total now stands at 619,089 reported COVID-19 cases and at least 11,096 deaths.

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