Angela Merkel has said the coronavirus pandemic is “still at the beginning” / Image=European People's Party, Flickr
[Newsphopick=Gyubin Lee] Angela Merkel has said the coronavirus pandemic is “still at the beginning”, warning that the country risked rushing its exit from lockdown as divided EU leaders met in a crunch video-conference to agree a desperately needed Europe-wide recovery fund.
Worried that Germans were relaxing physical distancing efforts amid the reopening of smaller shops this week, the chancellor said Germany’s 16 states were moving too fast and the country remained “on the thinnest ice” despite its early achievements.
Germany has the fifth-highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world, but, mainly through early and extensive testing, has managed to keep its death toll down to just over 5,000, a far lower tally than many other countries.
“It is precise because the figures give rise to hope that I feel obliged to say that this interim result is fragile,” Merkel told parliament. “We are still far from out of the woods. We are not in the final phase of the pandemic, but still at the beginning.”
Christian Drosten, the director of the Institute for Virology at Berlin’s Charité hospital, warned that reopening shopping malls and larger stores could trigger a second wave in May and June, saying the country risked “gambling away” its early advantage.
With schools to reopen from 4 May and Merkel and state leaders due to meet again on 30 April to review how to proceed next.