Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Wednesday that more than two-thirds of Germany’s nearly 83 million people could be infected by the coronavirus.
“The virus has arrived,” she said, speaking at a news conference in Berlin, the first time she had addressed the public on the issue. She urged the whole country to help work to slow the spread of the disease, as a slower infection rate would help ease the burden on the health-care system.
She did not announce any new guidelines to mitigate the spread.
Germany has faced criticism for being slow to act, while confirmed cases of the virus rose steeply. At least 1,296 people in the country have been infected, and two have died.
In Italy, where the virus spread for weeks in the community before anyone noticed, there are now more than 10,000 confirmed cases and 631 deaths. Its health system is straining under the pressure.
If there continues to be no vaccine or treatment options, then 60 to 70 percent of people in Germany could be infected, Merkel said. With older people and those with preexisting health conditions at risk, “we must make sure that we protect these people and slow the expansion of the virus,” she said.
As the first deaths were recorded this week, Health Minister Jens Spahn recommended that gatherings with more than 1,000 attendees should be postponed. However, Germany has faced problems in enforcing measures in its federalized system. Spahn said the recommendation does not mean that all events with fewer than 1,000 people should go ahead, saying caution is needed with more crowded gatherings, such as music concerts.
He said the country has 28,000 intensive-care beds, about 25,000 of which have ventilation capacity, but that many are in use and that hospitals need to make plans to “deal with as many patients as possible.”
Source: Washington Post