Merkel Urges Prudence Ahead of Germany’s Darkest Covid Days Yet

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Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans to closely adhere to tougher lockdown measures as Covid-19 fatalities surge ahead of what she warned will probably be the toughest weeks of the pandemic yet.

Doctors and nurses at many hospitals are already close to being overwhelmed, and it’s still unclear how big of a surge in cases will result from holiday gatherings, Merkel said in her weekly podcast. The faster spread of new strains of the virus only adds to the sense of concern.

Germany’s death toll from the coronavirus exceeded 1,000 for a fourth straight day, making the past week the country’s deadliest stint of the pandemic. Fatalities increased by 1,035 in the 24 hours through Saturday morning, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Total infections rose 19,840 to 1.91 million, portending no relief in sight for the country’s increasingly stretched health system.

The country needs to bring infections back down to the levels of last summer and early fall, so that health authorities can perform contact tracing for every new case and break chains of transmission early, Merkel said. That can only happen if people consistently follow tougher restrictions that went into effect this past week.

“Prudence in these hard January weeks and concern for one another will pay off,” Merkel said. “That way, we can more quickly fulfill our hopes for the new year.”

Merkel pledged that the pace of vaccinations will steadily increase and said there will ultimately be enough shots for everyone in the country. She once again defended the decision to first procure vaccines at the European Union level, saying no country can defeat the pandemic on its own and that Germany wouldn’t be safe if its neighboring countries weren’t protected, too.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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