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COVID-19: Germans urged to stay at home during Easter

Merkel expresses ‘cautious optimism’ on slowing rate of new infections, says 'still early to relax lockdown measures'

Ayhan Şimşek   | 09.04.2020
COVID-19: Germans urged to stay at home during Easter

BERLIN 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday urged citizens to continue to practice social distancing during Easter to prevent the further spread of coronavirus.

Speaking at a news conference in Berlin, Merkel expressed “caution optimism” about slowing rate of new COVID-19 infections in Germany, but ruled out discussing a lockdown exit strategy before achieving sustained decline in new infections.

“It is still too early, we are right in the middle of this struggle,” she stressed, and underlined that the government will reassess the situation after Easter, after consulting the country’s disease control agency, the Robert Koch Institute.

The chancellor called on citizens to follow social distancing recommendations, avoid making trips, gatherings with family and friends during Easter.

“We have to stay focused, the situation is fragile. As the president of the Robert Koch Institute said, there is no reason for relaxing the measures,” she stressed.

The German government imposed strict lockdown measures last month to stem the spread of the coronavirus, ordering all non-essential shops to close, and banning any social contact among more than two people in public.

The country’s death toll from COVID-19 has risen to 2,314 on Thursday, with 218 new deaths reported over the past 24 hours.

With 4,743 new cases, the number of people infected with the virus climbed to 113,923, according to real-time figures by data analysis firm Risklayer and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

Despite the slowing trend in the new infections, Germany recorded its largest daily rise in fatalities this week, following widespread infections in nursing homes.

So far, nearly 50,000 people have recovered from the virus, according to Health Minister Jens Spahn.

Germany has the fifth-highest tally of COVID-19 infections in the world, ranking behind the U.S., Spain, Italy, and France. But its death toll remains far lower than other hard-hit countries.

Besides widespread coronavirus testing, Germany has also significantly raised the bed capacity of intensive care units in hospitals: from 28,000 to nearly 40,000 in a couple of weeks.

Currently, hospitals across the country had more than 10,000 free intensive care beds for coronavirus patients.

Since originating in Wuhan, China last December, the virus has spread to at least 184 countries and regions.

There are more than 1.5 million confirmed cases worldwide, with nearly 90,000 deaths, and over 340,000 recoveries.

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