BERLIN (AP) – Chancellor Angela Merkel has told Germany to expect a “tough winter” as the number of newly reported coronavirus cases in the country hit new highs.
Merkel spoke Thursday in Parliament a day after she and the governors of Germany’s 16 states approved broad restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, including closings of bars and restaurants, restrictions on social contact and a ban on concerts and other public events. .
Germany’s disease control agency said local health authorities reported 16,774 new positive tests for COVID-19 in the past day, pushing the country’s total since the start of the outbreak near half a million. The Robert Koch Institute also recorded 89 additional deaths, bringing the country’s total to 10,272. That’s still a quarter of the UK’s death toll.
Merkel told lawmakers that Germany was in a “dramatic situation” as winter entered, which she said would be “four long and difficult months. But it will end.”
The longtime German leader said the authorities had no choice but to drastically reduce social contact because three-quarters of infections in Germany were now untraceable.
“If we wait until the ICU is full, it will be too late,” he said.
Merkel said democratic debate on curbing the virus was important, but criticized some critics who claimed the German government was exaggerating the virus threat.
“Lies and disinformation, conspiracy and hatred undermine not only debate but also the battle against the virus,” he said. “It’s not just democratic debate that depends on our relationship to facts and information, human life depends on it.”
Opposition leader Alexander Gauland of the far-right Alternative for Germany party responded to Merkel’s speech by accusing the government of “wartime propaganda” and likening the pandemic to motorized traffic, arguing that the public also received a number of car deaths.
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