Germany tops 100,000 daily COVID-19 cases for first time

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BERLIN (Reuters) -Germany reported a record 112,323 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, after the health minister said the peak had not been reached yet and compulsory vaccination should be introduced by May.

Germany also recorded 239 deaths in the space of 24 hours, for a cumulative total of 116,081, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious disease said.

Despite the new record, Germany's association for intensive care medicine (DIVI) said the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units was falling.

But the health ministry said the surge in infections was worrying and could burden hospitals in the medium term.

The highly infectious Omicron variant has pushed Germany's seven-day average to 584.4 cases per 100,000 people.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach told the broadcaster RTL late on Tuesday: "I think we will reach the peak of the wave in mid-February, and then the number of cases could fall again."

Lauterbach said he believed there could be twice as many unreported cases as known ones.

The minister said a vaccine mandate should be introduced quickly, in April or May, to prevent another wave of infections with possible new variants late in the year.

(Reporting by Riham Alkousaa; Editing by Miranda Murray and Kevin Liffey)