Warnings are mounting in Germany that it is up to the citizens of Europe's biggest economy to do their part to halt the spread of the coronavirus as daily new infections reach record levels.
"There can be no question anymore now that this is the start of a very big second wave," German Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief of staff, Helge Braun, told public broadcaster ARD on Thursday.
"At the start of this second wave it is up to us to stop the infections. The longer we wait and the less decisive we are, the more it will impact not only our health but also our economy," he added.
By European standards, Germany has experienced relatively low infection and death rates so far during the pandemic, but new daily cases have jumped in recent weeks.
They have now reached a record of 6638, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 341,223, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Thursday.
The previous record daily increase was 6294 on March 28, according to RKI data.
Germany's states agreed late on Wednesday to extend measures against the spread of the coronavirus to larger parts of the country as new cases soared, but Merkel warned even tougher steps may be needed.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn warned that people's behaviour in the coming days would determine whether they will be able to spend Christmas with their families this year.
"It's important to understand that we are not powerless against this virus. We can do something, we all can make a difference every day," he told Deutschlandfunk radio on Thursday.
"We can be the spoilsport for the virus if we are careful with one another and keep the number of new infections to a level we can handle."
Under Wednesday's agreement, the threshold at which tougher measures like late-night curfews on bars and tighter restrictions of private gatherings kick in will be lowered to 35 new infections per 100,000 people over seven days, compared with 50 before.
Merkel urged especially young people to do their part to halt the spread of the virus after private parties were repeatedly blamed for localised outbreaks in German cities.
"We must call especially on young people to do without a few parties now in order to have a good life tomorrow or the day after," she said.
"We will see whether today's decisions were enough. My uneasiness is not gone yet," Merkel said on Wednesdady.
Thursday's tally showed the reported death toll rose by 33 to 9710.
Australian Associated Press