Merkel spoke out after a video meeting on Thursday with the premiers of Germany’s 16 federal states. The Delta variant, which was first detected in India, is now pushing up Covid cases significantly in the UK.
“The thing that worries us is the so-called Delta variant, which is again spreading very strongly in Great Britain,” Merkel said following consultations with the state leaders.
According to the RKI, the Delta variant still remains relatively rare in Germany, although it has been increasing slowly. It accounts for around 2.5 percent of cases in Germany, according to samples tested. That figure refers to the week from May 24th to 30th.
The variant Alpha (B.1.1.7, first discovered in the UK) continues to cause the majority of infections nationwide, accounting for 94 percent of the samples tested.
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Merkel said the low number of cases linked to the Delta variant in Germany was encouraging. But further progress on inoculating the population is now extremely important.
“We are basically in a race to vaccinate,” the Chancellor said.
Merkel said the strict travel rules put in place by Germany on Britain and India due to the variant were the right move.
There are some exceptions such as for German residents and citizens. However, anyone arriving in Germany must show a negative Covid test and complete a 14 day quarantine even if they are fully vaccinated.
‘Corona has not disappeared’
At the same time, however, Merkel called the current Covid development in Germany “extremely pleasing” in terms of case numbers.
“We can say that the efforts of the past months have paid off,” she said.
However, she said, this does not mean the virus has “disappeared”, as shown by the current rise in cases in the UK due to the Delta virus variant despite high vaccination coverage in the population.
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On Friday Germany logged 2,440 Covid infections within 24 hours and the 7-day incidence was at 18.6 cases per 100,000 residents.
Around 47 percent of the German population has had at least one jab, and 23.9 percent are fully vaccinated.
Merkel said booster vaccinations are likely to start for older people in autumn.
At the meeting, Merkel and state leaders discussed the coronavirus situation, and rules for holding big events in summer. But no agreement was reached.
Merkel said there were “a lot of possibilities” ahead but warned that Germany could not act “carefree”.
“We must keep looking at the situation very closely,” said the Chancellor.