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HEALTH

German government insists Merkel is ‘very active and healthy’

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived Friday at the G20 meeting in Osaka amid fears over her health after she suffered a second public bout of uncontrollable shaking in just over a week.

German government insists Merkel is 'very active and healthy'
Merkel is greeted by Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister, on Friday morning. Photo: DPA

Merkel's plane touched down in the western Japanese city with a German government spokesman stressing: “She is doing well. Nothing is wrong.”

The German leader, who turns 65 next month, sparked renewed fears for her health on the eve of the summit, as she began to tremble at a speech given by the German president in Berlin. The shaking lasted around two minutes, according to a DPA photographer present.

SEE ALSO: Should Germany be worried about Merkel's health after trembling spell?

A previous bout of uncontrollable shaking last week was blamed on dehydration on a hot summer's day.

Officials sought to play down the fears over her health.

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said she would not cancel any of her engagements in the coming days, which promise to be hectic.

The German government insisted Friday that Merkel was in robust health, after a second episode of uncontrolled shaking sparked concerns about the wellbeing of the EU's longest-serving leader.

Asked about how Merkel, who is in Japan for a G20 summit, was faring after her second trembling spell in as many weeks, government spokeswoman Martina Fietz said she was fine.

“The images you can see from Osaka show that the chancellor is very active and healthy — doing her job and keeping her planned appointments,” Fietz told reporters.

Seibert said she would not cancel any of her engagements in the coming days, which promise to be gruelling.

Merkel is to participate in the two-day G20 gathering and numerous bilateral meetings. These include what is shaping up to be a fractious tete-a-tete with US President Donald Trump, who called Germany “delinquent” before he left for Osaka.

She flies from Osaka straight to a crunch EU summit on Sunday where leaders will seek to clinch agreement on who will lead the bloc's institutions.

Frequently hailed as Europe's most influential leader and the world's most powerful woman, Merkel has enjoyed relatively robust health during a long career at Germany's helm.

She has said she will leave politics at the end of her term in 2021.

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HEALTH

Monkeypox in Germany: Two teens ‘among new infections’

Two teenage boys between the ages of 15-17 have reportedly been infected by monkeypox, as the number of cases in Germany continues to grow.

Monkeypox in Germany: Two teens 'among new infections'

German news site Spiegel Online first reported the new cases – which are an anomaly for a virus as it has mostly affected gay men – following an inquiry to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). 

They are among a total of 2,677 people who are confirmed to have contracted the virus in Germany to date. There have not been any fatalities.

Out of these, only five cases were women, according to the RKI. The public health institute said that it does not release information on individual cases.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Germany wants to contain the monkeypox

The disease – which is not usually fatal – often manifests itself through fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a chickenpox-like rash on the hands and face.

The virus can be transmitted through contact with skin lesions and droplets of a contaminated person, as well as through shared items such as bedding and towels.

Many of the cases known so far concern homosexual and bisexual men. However, affected people and experts have repeatedly warned against stigmatising gay communities.

How fatal is the disease?

The first monkeypox cases were reported in Germany on May 20th, as the disease continued to spread in West Europe.

At the weekend, the first two deaths outside of West Africa were reported in Spain.

READ ALSO: WHO warns ‘high’ risk of monkeypox in Europe as it declares health emergency

The RKI has urged people returning from West Africa and in particular gay men, to see their doctors quickly if they notice any chances on their skin.

According to the latest estimates, there are 23,000 monkeypox cases worldwide, and Europe is particularly affected with 14,000 cases.

There have been 2,677 monkeypox cases in Germany as of August 2, 2022. Photo: CDC handout

About eight percent of patients in Europe have been hospitalised so far, reported the World Health Association on Monday, mostly due to severe pain or additional infections.

In general, the mortality of the variant currently circulating in Europe is estimated to be low.

READ ALSO: More cases of monkeypox ‘expected’ in Germany

Will a vaccine make a difference?

Since July, a vaccine has been authorised in 27 EU member states and in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. 

The Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) recommends vaccination against monkeypox in Germany for certain risk groups and people who have had close contact with infected people.

So far, the German government has ordered 240,000 vaccine doses, of which 40,000 had been delivered by Friday. 

Around 200,000 doses are set to follow by the end of September. 

The German Aids Federation (DAH) on Friday called for one million vaccine doses, stressing that the current supplies will fall short of meeting need.

“The goal must be to reduce the number of infections as quickly as possible and to get the epidemic permanently under control,” explained Ulf Kristal of the DAH board in Berlin on Friday.

But this is only possible, he said, if as many people at risk of infection as possible are vaccinated.

“We don’t assume the epidemic will be over when the doses available so far have been vaccinated,” Axel Jeremias Schmidt, Epidemiologist and DAH Consultant for Medicine and Health Policy, wrote in a press release.

As long as there are monkeypox infections, he said, people who are at risk must be offered vaccination. 

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