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ANGELA MERKEL

Merkel to give rare unscheduled TV interview on Germany’s Covid-19 situation

Chancellor Angela Merkel is making the unusual move of giving a special, unscheduled TV interview on Tuesday.

Merkel to give rare unscheduled TV interview on Germany's Covid-19 situation
Angela Merkel on Monday. Photo: DPA

The 15-minute programme, which was announced at short notice on Tuesday morning, will be broadcast early Tuesday evening.

Merkel will answer questions on the troubled vaccine rollout in Germany, as well on the coronavirus situation and shutdown.

READ MORE: Germany to launch national vaccination campaign amid disappointment over shortages

On announcing the programme, ARD's Das Erste channel said the last months of Merkel's Chancellorship have been “the most challenging”.

“After the long months of crisis, the economy and the population are hoping for a more relaxed situation thanks to vaccines,” continued the broadcaster.

“But supply bottlenecks of the pharmaceutical companies make the government look weak. The national vaccination summit aims to change that: a vaccination plan is to be worked out next week to make vaccinations more reliable.

“At the same time, the government continues to appeal to the population and asks for patience and understanding. The opposition is dissatisfied: it criticises omissions and too few tangible results.

“How does the government intend to provide the states and municipalities with the much-needed security to be able to plan vaccinations?

“And how does the Chancellor intend to motivate the population to stick to the ongoing measures?”

Merkel will be interviewed by Tina Hassel, Studio Manager and editor-in-chief for television at the ARD Capital Studio, and ARD editor-in-chief Rainald Becker.

Aside from her annual New Year's Eve speeches, it's unusual for Merkel to appear on prime time TV.

Last year at the beginning of the crisis, Merkel addressed citizens directly via a televised statement.

In the dramatic appeal in March 2020, Merkel urged everyone to play a part in slowing down the virus.

“The situation is serious. Take it seriously,” she said.

“Not since German reunification, no, not since the Second World War has our country faced a challenge that depends so much on our collective solidarity,” she said.

But lately few motivating messages have come from the Chancellor. 

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COVID-19

German health agency expects number of Covid ICU patients to rise

The Covid pandemic is continuing to cause problems around Germany, with concerns that the number of patients needing treatment will rise in the coming weeks.

German health agency expects number of Covid ICU patients to rise

In its weekly Covid report, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said that confirmed infections appeared to be rising in some German states, and falling in others.

But experts warned that the situation remained tense, with many infections not reported. 

Therefore, in the coming weeks, “hospitalisations, an increase in intensive care treatment and deaths are to be expected, especially among the elderly”, said the RKI.

People over the age of 80 “continue to be most affected by severe courses of the disease”, the experts said in their report. 

The incidence of infections is continuing to rise for this age group, and the number of outbreaks of Covid-19 in medical treatment facilities as well as in old people’s and nursing homes is going up.

READ ALSO: Which Covid rules are likely to return to Germany in autumn?

The number of patients with Covid-19 being treated in intensive care units (ICUs) is also rising slightly. In the previous week, the number was reported to be around 1,330. And on Thursday July 28th, 1,550 people were in ICUs in Germany with 484 receiving ventilation treatment, according to the DIVI intensive care register. 

The number of deaths in connection with the virus is currently around just over 400 per week. The RKI says this trend is a plateau.

When it comes to the overall picture of Covid in Germany, the RKI said there was a “sideways movement rather than a decreasing trend”.

Last week, the nationwide 7-day incidence decreased slightly compared to the previous week. The overall picture shows falling incidences in most western German states and Berlin, with incidences still rising slightly in the other eastern German states and Bavaria.

The RKI estimates there’s been a total of 800,000 to 1.5 million people with Covid (who also have symptoms) in the past week alone in Germany.

Last week experts warned that they expected the Covid situation to get worse in the coming weeks as many schools in Germany return after the summer break.

READ ALSO: Germany’s summer Covid wave set to get worse

The Omicron sub-variant BA.5, which has dominated in Germany since mid-June, has almost completely displaced other variants. It accounts for 89 percent of samples in the past week, the RKI said.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach warned people against underestimating getting Covid again.

The SPD politician pointed out that it was very easy to become infected with BA.5 – even for those who were infected with a previous type.

He warned that many could become seriously ill or die, plus there’s the risk of picking up Long Covid.

“Therefore, we have to solve the problem not by constant infection, but by better vaccines,” Lauterbach said.

‘Call things as they are’

Lauterbach, meanwhile, defended himself against his choice of words when describing the possibility of a new dangerous Covid variant emerging in autumn. 

In an interview with Bild newspaper in April he said: “It is quite possible that we will get a highly contagious Omicron variant that is as deadly as Delta – that would be an absolute killer variant.”

He was slammed for his dramatic choice of words. 

This week Lauterbach said: “I use few vocabulary that is apocalyptic. But sometimes you have to call things as they are.”

If there were a virus that linked the contagion of the BA.5 variant with the severe course of a Delta variant, “that would be a killer variant”, he maintained.

But he stressed that he had “not said that such a variant is definitely coming, but that we have to be prepared for such a variant”.

READ ALSO: German Health Minister calls on under 60s to get next Covid jab

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