Germany extends lockdown as Angela Merkel warns of third wave

  • Chanceler Angela Merkel,  Chanceler  Alemanha
Angela Merkel said Germany is “basically in a new pandemic” as she extended the country’s hard lockdown to mid-April to try and break a third wave fuelled by the Covid-19 variant first detected in the UK.

In talks that ran deep into the night, Ms Merkel pushed the leaders of Germany's 16 states to take a tougher stance to fight the pandemic, reversing plans for a gradual re-opening of the economy agreed earlier this month after a sharp rise in the infection rate.

She said the country was in a race against time to vaccinate its population before new coronavirus variants took over.

"We are now basically in a new pandemic. The British mutation has become dominant," she said.

"Fundamentally, we face a new virus of the same kind but with very different characteristics. More deadly, more infectious, and infectious for longer."

In neighbouring France, doctors warned the health system faces an "unprecedented violent shock" in about three weeks if the country fails to contain Covid-19 cases.

"The epidemic is gathering pace, and the figures are exploding," the French hospital federation's Frederic Valletoux said.

Last week, France imposed a month-long lockdown on Paris and parts of the north after a faltering vaccine rollout and spread of highly contagious coronavirus variants forced President Emmanuel Macron to shift course.

Official data on Monday showed that the tally of new COVID-19 cases in France had accelerated, with the number of people in intensive care at a new four-month high.

France reported 15,792 new coronavirus cases on Monday, more than double the 6,471 reported last Monday.

Germany started cautiously easing restrictions earlier this month. But the spread of more infectious variants of the virus pushed up cases, prompting concerns that hospitals could soon be overstretched without further curbs.

The number of cases per 100,000 people over a week stood at 107 on Monday, above the level at which intensive care units are likely to be overwhelmed.

On Tuesday, the death toll rose by 250 to 74,964, while confirmed cases increased by 7,485 to 2,674,710.

“We are now in a very, very serious situation,” Ms Merkel said.

“The case numbers are rising exponentially and intensive care beds are filling up again.”

The country will enter an even stricter lockdown from April 1 to April 5, over the Easter holiday period.

In the radical Easter shutdown -- one of the toughest in Germany since the start of the pandemic -- all shops will be closed from April 1 for five days, apart from food stores which will only open on April 3. Ms Merkel had pushed for all shops, including grocery stores, to close for the full five days.

 

In talks that ran deep into the night, Ms Merkel pushed the leaders of Germany's 16 states to take a tougher stance to fight the pandemic, reversing plans for a gradual re-opening of the economy agreed earlier this month after a sharp rise in the infection rate.

She said the country was in a race against time to vaccinate its population before new coronavirus variants took over.

"We are now basically in a new pandemic. The British mutation has become dominant," she said.

"Fundamentally, we face a new virus of the same kind but with very different characteristics. More deadly, more infectious, and infectious for longer."

In neighbouring France, doctors warned the health system faces an "unprecedented violent shock" in about three weeks if the country fails to contain Covid-19 cases.

"The epidemic is gathering pace, and the figures are exploding," the French hospital federation's Frederic Valletoux said.

Last week, France imposed a month-long lockdown on Paris and parts of the north after a faltering vaccine rollout and spread of highly contagious coronavirus variants forced President Emmanuel Macron to shift course.

Official data on Monday showed that the tally of new COVID-19 cases in France had accelerated, with the number of people in intensive care at a new four-month high.

France reported 15,792 new coronavirus cases on Monday, more than double the 6,471 reported last Monday.

Germany started cautiously easing restrictions earlier this month. But the spread of more infectious variants of the virus pushed up cases, prompting concerns that hospitals could soon be overstretched without further curbs.

The number of cases per 100,000 people over a week stood at 107 on Monday, above the level at which intensive care units are likely to be overwhelmed.

On Tuesday, the death toll rose by 250 to 74,964, while confirmed cases increased by 7,485 to 2,674,710.

“We are now in a very, very serious situation,” Ms Merkel said.

“The case numbers are rising exponentially and intensive care beds are filling up again.”

The country will enter an even stricter lockdown from April 1 to April 5, over the Easter holiday period.

In the radical Easter shutdown -- one of the toughest in Germany since the start of the pandemic -- all shops will be closed from April 1 for five days, apart from food stores which will only open on April 3. Ms Merkel had pushed for all shops, including grocery stores, to close for the full five days.