Warnings echoed in Germany for the people of Europe's largest economy to do their part in efforts to stop the spread of the new coronavirus as it grapples with a second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The additional daily cases of COVID-19 in Germany hit a record Thursday.
"There is no doubt now that this is the beginning of a second wave (of the COVID-19 outbreak) which is huge," German Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief of staff, Helge Braun, told public broadcaster ARD.
"At the start of this second wave, the key is in our hands to stop the transmission of infection. The longer we wait and the less assertive we are, the more this virus will affect not only our health but also our economy," said Braun.
By European standards, Germany has so far experienced relatively low rates of coronavirus infection and death from COVID-19 during the pandemic. However, additional daily recent cases of COVID-19 have surged in recent weeks.
Germany's daily new COVID-19 cases have now hit a record 6,638, bringing the total cases since the start of the pandemic to 341,223, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases on Thursday.
The previous record daily increase was 6,294 on March 28, according to RKI data. German states agreed on Wednesday night to expand restrictive measures to counter the spread of the coronavirus to larger regions of the country.
The decision came as new cases of COVID-19 in Germany surged, but Merkel warned that even harsher steps may be needed.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn warned that people's behavior in the coming days will determine whether they can celebrate Christmas with their families this year.
"It is important to understand that we are not powerless against this virus. We can do something, we can all make a difference every day," Spahn told Deutschlandfunk radio on Thursday.
"We can be a barrier to the transmission of this virus if we are careful of each other and keep the number of new infections to a level we can handle."
Thursday's tally showed the number of reported fatalities from COVID-19 rose by 33 to 9,710. (Antaranews)