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German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged unvaccinated people to reconsider their decision in a video message on Saturday, as the country's seven-day coronavirus incidence rate rose to the highest level since the pandemic began.

"Difficult weeks lie ahead of us, and you can see that I am very worried," Merkel said, speaking in her weekly video podcast. "I urgently ask everyone who has not yet been vaccinated: please reconsider."

Germany's seven-day incidence rate - the number of people per 100,000 to be infected over the last week - rose to 277.4 on Saturday, data from the Robert Koch Institute showed. The record in the third wave of the pandemic last December was 197.6.

The federal government and leaders of Germany's 16 states are due to meet next week to discuss tightening measures, though the three parties negotiating to form a new government have agreed to let a state of emergency in place since the start of the pandemic expire on Nov. 25 as planned.

"It has always helped us when states and the federal government worked together and committed to uniform rules," Merkel said.

Europe has become the epicentre of the pandemic again, prompting some governments to consider re-imposing unpopular lockdowns in the run-up to Christmas and stirring debate over whether vaccines alone are enough to tame COVID-19.

 

(Reporting by Victoria Waldersee; Editing by Jan Harvey)

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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