BERLIN (BLOOMBERG) – Germany passed the threshold of 100,000 Covid-19 deaths, with the latest wave of the pandemic still pushing new infections higher and hospitals in some hotspots under severe pressure.

Since the pandemic took hold at the beginning of last year, 100,119 people have died from the virus, according to the latest data from the RKI public-health institute on Thursday (Nov 25).

The number roughly equals the population of mid-sized German cities like Erlangen or Guetersloh, the home towns of Siemens Healthineers AG and media firm Bertelsmann SE respectively.

Germany’s death toll is still lower than in the UK, France or Italy, which each passed 100,000 some time ago.

The US has recorded the most deaths with more than 770,000, following by Brazil with over 610,000, according to the Bloomberg Covid-19 Tracker.

The number of daily fatalities in Germany is only about a fifth of the level seen last winter, with about 68 per cent of the population fully vaccinated against the disease.

Germany’s hospitals are nonetheless becoming increasingly overwhelmed in some regions, and the government’s latest measures have yet to show a tangible effect.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and regional leaders agreed last week to restrict access to restaurants, bars and public events for unvaccinated people in hard-hit areas, and the curbs are taking effect across most of the country.

With infections climbing further and authorities slow to act amid a change in power, experts warn that another lockdown like in neighbouring Austria could become unavoidable, inflicting more damage on Europe’s biggest economy and delaying its recovery.

The prospect of tighter restrictions ahead of the Christmas season is “a catastrophe,” according to Mr Marc Tenbieg from lobby group Deutscher Mittelstands-Bund, which represents the small and medium-sized companies that make up the backbone of the German economy.

The association backs curbs to fight the pandemic, Mr Tenbieg said, though he criticized political leaders for reacting “far too late.”