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Merkel seeks tougher restrictions to fight Covid-19 surge

  • Published at 12:51 pm October 14th, 2020
Germany Covid-19
File photo: People wearing protective face masks walk in the pedestrian area, in the city of Dortmund on October 14, 2020 AFP

New Covid-19 infections in Germany cross 5,000 cases in the last 24 hours, a level not seen since a lockdown imposed on Europe's biggest economy in the spring

German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants measures toughened up to fight a surge in coronavirus infections, including requiring masks in more places and limiting numbers of people gathering for private events, according to a draft policy paper seen by AFP.

The proposals to be discussed with premiers from Germany's 16 states later Wednesday would see the restrictions kick in once an area records 35 new infections per 100,000 people over seven days.

Previously, Germany had used a yardstick of 50 new infections per 100,000 as the threshold when tougher restrictions would apply.

Merkel has in recent days repeatedly voiced alarm about contagion growing again and urged the country not to squander its early success in keeping numbers manageable.

She has cited as her priorities keeping schools open so that the country's youth would not lose more education time as well as ensuring that most of the economy can keep going.

But new infections continued their uptick on Wednesday, pushing past 5,000 cases in 24 hours -- a level not seen since a lockdown imposed on Europe's biggest economy in the spring.

The draft document takes aim at private gatherings, which it notes can help propagate the virus and makes an appeal to citizens to "critically weigh up in each case, whether, how and in what extent private parties are necessary and justifiable given the virus situation."

It also pledges to extend help for companies whose businesses have been hurt by the restrictions.

It also warned that yet further restrictions could be imposed if the upwards trajectory of new infections is maintained.

Lothar Wieler, the head of Germany's disease control agency RKI, meanwhile urged vulnerable groups to get their seasonal flu shots this year to avoid overwhelming the health system with both flu and Covid-19 illnesses.

"We're in a situation where I think we can still flatten the exponential growth but for that we all need to make an effort," he said.



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