German health authorities are warning of a fourth COVID-19 wave in October amid a new vaccine push while coronavirus infections in Norway hit new highs.
Lothar Wieler, head of Germany's Robert Koch Institute (RKI) disease control centre, said that vaccination numbers must go up in order to avoid an "extreme" surge in new infections, saying vaccines are "our opportunity to end the pandemic".
In a joint press conference, Health Minister Jens Spahn said that at least 66 per cent of the German population have received the first vaccine shot and 61.6 per cent have already been fully inoculated.
"Right now, there is a pandemic of the unvaccinated," Spahn said, calling on citizens to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Germany has surpassed the four million mark for total coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
The coronavirus-linked death toll stands at 92,949.
Meanwhile, the number of new coronavirus infections in Norway is now at its highest level since the beginning of the pandemic.
According to information provided by the health authorities on Wednesday, almost 10,000 new cases were registered last week, 15 per cent more than in the previous week.
This corresponds to 346 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days.
As a result of the rise, the Norwegian government declined to say when coronavirus restrictions will be lifted.
In Denmark restrictions are due to be lifted on Friday, in Sweden at the end of September and in Finland in October.
Norway's Health Minister Bent Hoie said that the goal was to vaccinate 90 per cent of the adult population by the end of September.
"As we get closer to that target, we will probably open up and move towards a normal society with increased readiness."
Norway's vaccination program lags behind those of its Scandinavian neighbours, even though 77 per cent of the adult Norwegian population is now fully vaccinated.
Only last week, the government gave the go-ahead to extending the vaccination program to children aged 12 and up, an important step given high infection rates among adolescents.
It is hoped that mass testing at schools will also help ease the rise in transmission as well as preventing entire classes from having to go into quarantine.
Australian Associated Press