WORLD Merkel backs tougher virus curbs as German deaths hit record

WORLD

Merkel backs tougher virus curbs as German deaths hit record

Shenzhen Daily

08:58, December 10, 2020

File photo: Agencies

German Chancellor Angela Merkel advocated tougher restrictions on public life yesterday and pleaded with her compatriots to cut down on socializing as the country reported its highest single-day death toll of the coronavirus pandemic.

Germany is gradually moving toward a tighter lockdown, at least for a limited period after Christmas, as new virus cases remain stubbornly high — and are even beginning to creep higher — despite a partial shutdown that started Nov. 2.

The national disease control center, the Robert Koch Institute, reported 590 deaths related to COVID-19 over the past 24 hours — more than 100 higher than the week-old previous record. It counted 20,815 new daily infections, compared with 17,270 a week earlier. Germany, which has 83 million people, has now recorded nearly 1.22 million cases, including 19,932 deaths in the pandemic.

“We are in a decisive, perhaps the decisive, phase of fighting the pandemic,” Merkel told parliament yesterday. “The figures are at much too high a level,” a visibly frustrated chancellor added, describing as “very alarming” the rising number of people requiring intensive care and dying.

Merkel has consistently advocated decisive action to fight the pandemic but has often had to move more slowly because, in highly decentralized Germany, the country’s 16 state governments are responsible for imposing and lifting restrictions. She and the state governors meet periodically to coordinate measures.

Restaurants, bars, leisure and sports facilities are currently closed in Germany and hotels are closed to tourists, but schools and nonessential shops remain open.

Merkel noted that a national academy of scientists and academics recommended that Germans put in place a “hard lockdown” from Dec. 24 to Jan. 10.

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