Merkel to take control from German states in pandemic battle – source

FILE PHOTO: People queue outside a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test site at a city’s shopping zone, during pandemic lockdown, in Berlin, Germany, March 31, 2021. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

BERLIN (Reuters) -German Chancellor Angela Merkel plans to take control from federal states to impose restrictions on regions recording high numbers of new coronavirus infections, a government source said on Friday.

“The federal government plans to introduce draft legislation next week, in close coordination with the states, that includes a binding and comprehensive emergency break for districts with an incidence of 100 and up,” the source said.

At an infection rate of less than 100 per 100,000 people over seven days, the states will retain control over measures to slow the spread of the virus.

Germany is struggling to tackle a third wave of the pandemic, and Merkel and several regional leaders have called for a short, sharp lockdown while the country tries to vaccinate more people.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases increased by 25,464 in a day, which was 3,576 more than a week earlier, and the 7-day incidence stood at 110.4, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Friday.

But RKI cautioned that the figures may be skewed following the long Easter holiday weekend, adding it expected reliable case numbers from around the middle of next week.

A meeting of Chancellor Merkel and the leaders of Germany’s 16 states scheduled for Monday, at which they were to discuss an extension to COVID restrictions, has been cancelled, the government source told Reuters.

German health minister Jens Spahn warned on Friday that nationwide measures were necessary to break the current wave of coronavirus infections as quickly as possible.

He told journalists that there were currently nearly 4,500 patients in intensive care in Germany, adding: “If this continues, it will be too much for our health system.”

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