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HEALTH

Germany ‘greatly concerned’ as coronavirus clusters grow

The rapid rise in Germany's coronavirus numbers is very worrying, the country's Robert Koch Institute for disease control said Tuesday, urging citizens to keep their distance and wear face masks.

Germany 'greatly concerned' as coronavirus clusters grow
Lothar Wieler speaking at a press conference in Berlin on Tuesday morning. Photo: DPA

 “We must prevent that the virus once again spreads rapidly and uncontrollably,” Robert Koch Institute head Lothar Wieler told reporters.

“The latest developments in the number of COVID-19 cases are of great  concern to me and all of us at the RKI,” he said.

Germany has fared better than many of its neighbours in suppressing the virus, but Wieler urged citizens not to squander the progress following a  spike numbers in recent weeks.

“It's in our hands how the pandemic evolves in Germany,” Wieler said, calling on Germans to stick with prevention measures such as washing hands and keeping a safe distance.

READ ALSO: 'The situation is worrying': Germany sees rise in coronavirus infections

Face masks should be worn not only indoors, but also outdoors, if the  recommended 1.5-metre (5-foot) distancing cannot be maintained, he said, in a  subtle update of the prior advice.

Currently people in Germany are required to wear masks in public transport and in shops and supermarkets.

Fears over a second wave

The stark warning comes as countries around the world grapple with a surge in infections, fuelling fears of a dreaded second wave.

Holidaymakers returning from abroad have stoked particular concern.

Germany's foreign ministry updated its travel advisory on Tuesday, recommending against travel to three regions in northern Spain grappling with renewed outbreaks.

“Non essential, tourist travel to the autonomous communities of Aragon, Catalonia and Navarra are currently discouraged due to renewed high levels of infections and local lockdowns,” a statement said.

The RKI chief said Germans bringing the virus back from their summer holidays was one reason for the surge in cases, but he also pointed to outbreaks happening at workplaces and open-air parties.

Germany has so far recorded a total of 206,242 coronavirus cases and 9,122 deaths.

Berlin has taken great pride in keeping the fatality numbers low, crediting its world-class health system and widespread early testing for the success.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany's plans for mandatory Covid-19 tests for returning travellers

But Wieler said other countries such as Israel had shown how quickly the situation can change.

Over the last seven days, Germany has registered an average of 557 new cases a day, up from around 350 in early June.

“We don't know yet if this is the beginning of a second wave but of course  it could be,” Wieler said.

“But I am optimistic that if we follow the hygiene rules we can prevent it, it's up to us.”

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COVID-19

German Chancellor Scholz tests positive for Covid after Gulf tour

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has tested positive for the coronavirus and is displaying mild symptoms after returning from a tour of the Gulf, his spokesman said Monday.

German Chancellor Scholz tests positive for Covid after Gulf tour

The 64-year-old Social Democrat is isolating in his apartment in the chancellery, and will attend meetings online, spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said.

At the weekend, he visited Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar on a hunt for new energy sources after Russia cut gas supplies amid tensions over the Ukraine war.

He signed a deal Sunday for the UAE to supply natural gas and diesel to Germany.

READ ALSO: UAE to supply Germany with gas and diesel 

Meanwhile Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, also of the SPD, announced via Twitter on Monday that she had tested positive for Covid.

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