GERMANY is already fighting against a second wave of coronavirus, a top ally to Angela Merkel has warned.
Michael Kretschmer said the infection rates in the new clusters could lead to very high numbers of new cases as Europe sits on a knife edge over the pandemic.
Mr Kretschmer, the premier of Saxony and a longstanding ally of German Chancellor Merkel, said a second wave is already hitting Germany.
He said: “The second wave of coronavirus is already here.”
German officials at the Robert Koch Institute – which is leading the country’s fight against the pandemic – warned “more marked exacerbation needs to be avoided”.
The R rate – which estimates how many people one person with coronavirus infects – was up to 1.16 in Germany over the past week.
Germany’s daily case count also hit 818 on Friday, its highest number since June 17.
It comes as spikes of cases are being detected across Europe, with France warning progress has been “erased” in fighting coronavirus.
Spain has also recorded an increase in cases as Britain pulled up its air bridge, leaving 600,000 holidaymakers now facing a two-week quarantine.
Mr Kretschmer, a member of Merkel’s Christian Democrats, remained confident that health authorities will be able to contain the new wave of infections.
North Rhine-Westphalia, which borders Belgium, and Baden-Wurtemburg, which borders France and Switzerland, account for most of the new cases in Germany.
Lockdown easing has also been blamed for the new cases as they are mostly linked to celebrations, workplaces and gatherings.
EU bosses agreed a massive £670billion bailout package last week to help stave off the worse of the devastating impacts of the virus as the continent hoped to reopen.
Many European nations are seeing an increase in the number of virus cases as governments lift draconian lockdown measures.
France recorded 1,130 new infections on Friday as compared to just 81 when lockdown was eased at the end of May.
Spain meanwhile recorded its highest infection figure since May 11 with 2,615 new cases on Thursday, followed by 2,255 on Friday.
Rising figures risk triggering a second wave across Europe, with doctors predicting the virus may come back with a vengeance as temperatures plunge in the autumn.
Britain’s foreign secretary Dominic Raab has warned more countries could be axed from the UK’s safe travel list at very short notice.
It came as Spain was suddenly removed from the list in response to the rising number of cases.
Anyone who now travels to Britain from Spain will now face a mandatory two-week quarantine – much to the fury of holidaymakers.
Mr Raab said: “As we’ve found with Spain, we can’t give a guarantee.”
He added: “I’m not going to tell people what they should or shouldn’t do.
“They should follow the advice. I’m going to be staying at home this summer.”
France lamented the situation as cases surge across the continent, saying there has been a “clear increase” since the lifting of lockdown.
The health ministry said: “We have returned to levels comparable with those at the end of the lockdown period.
“We have thus erased a good part of the progress made during the initial weeks since the lockdown was lifted.
“It’s more essential than ever to reimpose our collective discipline.”
European nations had been hopeful of reopening after being ravaged by the virus in March and April as the epicenter of the pandemic shifted to South America and the US.
Back in May, Dr Andrea Ammon, director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control urged EU leaders to prepare for resurgence in coronavirus cases.
She warned that a lack of immunity could mean the second wave could be even worse than the first for Europe.
The disease expert said that only between two per cent and 14 per cent of the populations of European countries had been infected with coronavirus.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair also warned the world will have to “live with the virus” as he called for long-term face mask rules.
He said Covid-19 is not going to be “eliminated” any time soon and warned of a “50/50” chance the virus is going to return with a vengeance in the autumn.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted the UK is taking “every reasonable step” to prepare for a surge in virus cases in the autumn.
Mr Johnson has previously described coronavirus as a “circling shark in the water” as he urged people to take precautions amid fears of a second wave in the UK – with scientists warning it could kill 120,000.