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Germany is set to extend lockdown measures beyond January 10 due to the uproar surge of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic across 16 federal states in the country as the second wave of the virus unfolds.
AllNews gathered that Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, and state leaders are expected to meet on Tuesday to discuss a possible extension of lockdown in Europe’s top economy as coronavirus deaths continue to mount despite tough restrictions in the run-up to the holidays.
After Germany’s daily deaths surpassed the 1,000 high marks for the first time on December 30, pressure escalated to slow the spread of the virus which has claimed more than 34,000 lives.
Chancellor Merkel and the premiers of Germany’s 16 states are scheduled to meet with regional leaders signaling that they would prolong the current partial lockdown beyond the January 10 deadline, probably until the end of the month.
According to the Health Minister, Jens Spahn on Monday said “Given that infection rates are still too high it will be necessary to extend the restrictions”
Michael Kretschmer, premier of Saxony said the state with the highest infection rates in the country, a continued shutdown was “unavoidable”.
The current rules have seen most shops closed along with schools, restaurants, cultural and leisure facilities, and celebrations over Christmas and the New Year holidays were limited to small gatherings.
Officials say the impact of holiday travel and socializing on the virus’s spread will not be known until mid-January but that the figures to date are already deeply worrying.
Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said Monday that with some 5,700 corona patients in intensive care around the country, “hospitals in many places are working close to capacity”.
Spahn said that given such figures, a return to “face-to-face” learning for children was “highly implausible” and called for national guidelines on when and how schools could reopen.
In a New Year’s Eve televised address, Merkel had already warned Germans of a hard winter with the virus, stressing “the challenges that the pandemic poses remain immense”.
Germany, the EU’s most populous country, fared better than most of its neighbours during the first wave of the pandemic and its death toll is still lower than countries such as Italy, France, or Spain.
But epidemiologists say complacency about that relative success and an unwillingness to implement the toughest measures such as widespread curfews likely contributed to an exponential spread of the virus in the autumn.
Since October, the meetings between Merkel and regional leaders to set policy on the coronavirus have been marked by open conflict, with the chancellor pushing for a tougher line against resistance from several states.
Although Merkel’s popularity remains high and a large majority of Germans say they are broadly satisfied with her handling of the pandemic, analysts say those differences also undermined faith in the shutdown.