German health minister expects "massive" fifth coronavirus wave

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach receives chocolates from Frida, 10, after vaccinating her during a visit to a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination centre in Hanover, Germany, December 17, 2021. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

BERLIN, Dec 17 (Reuters) - German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, a former epidemiology professor famed for his bearish COVID-19 forecasts, said he expected the omicron variant of the coronavirus to unleash a "massive fifth wave" of the pandemic.

He added during a visit to the region of Lower Saxony that Germany had to prepare for a challenge "that we have never seen in this form before".

Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Maria Sheahan

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