BERLIN (Reuters) – The coronavirus situation in Germany is still very serious even though infection numbers are not rising so fast, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday, after federal and state leaders postponed until Nov. 25 a decision on further lockdown measures.
Merkel said she would have preferred to have agreed stricter rules at a meeting with federal and state leaders on Monday, adding she was very worried about the uncontrolled spread of coronavirus in some places, including the capital Berlin.
“Infection numbers aren’t growing exponentially anymore, but are still far too high. So we have to reduce contacts, reduce contacts, reduce contacts,” Merkel told a business event organised by the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose by 14,419 in a day, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Tuesday, while the death toll rose by 267. The rise in the number of cases was less than the 15,332 reported a week ago, but the death toll jumped from 154.
Merkel noted that about 30-40% of the German population were vulnerable, including elderly people and those with underlying health conditions.
“Getting the pandemic under control is the best solution for the economy, too,” she said.
Germany imposed a month-long “lockdown lite” on Nov. 2 to rein in a second wave that is sweeping much of Europe. Bars and restaurants are closed, but schools and shops remain open.
Merkel had proposed additional measures including making it mandatory to wear masks in schools and shrink class sizes, and urging citizens, and children, to limit social contacts to one household or friend.
Merkel reiterated that the seven-day incidence of the virus must fall below 50 per 100,000 residents before serious re-opening can be contemplated. Germany currently has 141 cases per 100,000 residents, according to the latest RKI figures.
(Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Michelle Adair and Maria Sheahan)