“If we were to wait until the intensive care units of our hospitals are fully occupied – and they are already under strain – before taking consistent measures to contain the infection, it would be too late,” Merkel said in the Bundestag on Thursday morning.
The so-called lockdown light in force since November had led new infections figures to plateau, but not yet to such an “urgently needed downward trend reversal,” said Merkel.
Speaking on Wednesday after seven hours of talks with the heads of Germany's 16 states, Merkel said the measures introduced in early November, including limits on private gatherings and the closure of bars, restaurants, leisure facilities and cultural sites, cannot be lifted given current infection rates.
She said measures would be extended until at least December 20th, but likely January given the the current situation.
New infections are still at “far too high a level”, Merkel said Thursday, and the numbers are still rising in some regions instead of falling.
As of Thursday morning, Germany had reported 22,144 new coronavirus cases, and a total of 128,035 within the last seven days.
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The Chancellor emphasised that pandemic control should not put health in competition with other important aspects of life such as education and economic prosperity.
She said that protecting the health system from overburdening would actually have a positive affect on everything else, and “strengthen social cohension.”
Merkel defended the actions of the federal and state governments and also stressed the role of the German government – a week following a massive protect against coronavirus measures which took place in front of the Bundestag.
“Our parliamentary democracy is efficient. It can take decisions very quickly and is “an anchor of trust for people in Germany, especially in times like these,” she said.