BERLIN - Germany will have the coronavirus pandemic under control by the end of the year but a new, more virulent strain of the virus risks exacerbating the situation, the public health chief said on Thursday.
Germany has so far recorded 16 cases of people with the British strain of the virus and four with the strain from South Africa, Lother Wieler, president of the Robert Koch health institute, told a news conference.
All cases so far have been caught by people who had travelled abroad, he said.
These will not be the last variations to be seen, he said, also referring to a new coronavirus variant found in Brazil.
"We will have more variations...Therefore don't travel."
Hospitals in 10 out of Germany's 16 states are facing bottlenecks as 85% of the beds in its intensive care units were used by coronavirus patients, Wieler said.
He urged people who were offered a COVID-19 vaccination to accept it to relieve the strain on hospitals and said people should stick to social distance and hygiene rules.
"At the end of the year we will have this pandemic under control," Wieler said, adding that enough vaccines would then be available to inoculate the entire population.
On Thursday, the RKI reported 25,164 new coronavirus cases and 1,244 fatalities, a record, bringing Germany's total death toll since the start of the pandemic to 43,881, the tally showed.
(Reporting by Kirsti Knolle and Thomas Escritt Writing by Caroline Copley Editing by Riham Alkousaa and Angus MacSwan) ((firstname.lastname@example.org;))