Angela Merkel outlines plans for European Health Union
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Virologist Melanie Brinkmann, from the Helmholtz Center for the Study of Infectious Diseases, told German daily Der Spiegel that both her country and those of the rest of the world should bet on a “no Covid” strategy with which to reach a seven-day incidence of 10 cases per 100,000 population. That goal, she laments, is impossible to achieve with the current measures.
Ms Brinkmann, who is part of the scientific advisory team to Chancellor Merkel, has directly criticised the plans of her country’s government for taking 50 cases as a goal.
In this way, she has anticipated, the country will remain in a kind of constant blockade because the figures would inevitably rise again after each small drop.
The virologist also does not see in the beginning of the vaccination as a reason to celebrate.
She said: “We will never get enough people vaccinated before the new variants attack.
“The race is lost.
“Everything else comes from illusions, fuelled by false promises made by some politicians.”
The scientist said she fears that by Easter, as soon as a large part of the first risk group has been vaccinated, the pressures to ease the measures will be too strong.
She added: “Then the virus will spread through the younger age groups, not yet vaccinated, who have no immunity, and with a force that nobody can even imagine.”
In her opinion, to effectively control the pandemic, more restrictive measures are not needed, but rather “apply the existing ones more strictly.”
For example, if someone is in quarantine, the person must strictly comply with it and not go outside at all.
To show what is being done and what should be done, she gave the example of a cast: “It’s like choosing to remove it painfully and slowly or with a quick blow and it is gone.
“If we wait another four weeks, things will soon be like in London, then there will be an incidence of thousands and everyone will be surprised.”
The German Chancellor is said to be considering extending lockdown restrictions until March 14.
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The number of new daily infections in Germany has been falling, leading some regional leaders to push for a timetable to ease the lockdown, but concerns are growing about the impact of more infectious strains of the virus on case numbers.
“We have a highly fragile situation,” Winfried Kretschmann, Greens premier of the southern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, told Spiegel Online.
“We can see in other countries, such as Portugal, how quickly the tide can turn.”
A draft agreement for talks between the Chancellor and leaders of the 16 federal states, which start in the afternoon, says that hairdressers could reopen under strict conditions from March 1.
The draft is subject to change.
Mrs Merkel has made clear that primary schools and nurseries will take priority in any easing.
The draft agreement said that individual states can decide on how to re-start classes.
“If the infection figures continue to fall reliably, the highest priority is clearly on the youngest children,” said Mr Kretschmann.
Mrs Merkel has in the past also made clear she wants a seven-day incidence of 50 cases per 100,000 people to be the benchmark for restrictions to be lifted.
That number currently stands at 68, according to data published by the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases on Wednesday.
Germany reported 8,072 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday and a further 813 deaths, bringing the total death toll to 62,969.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega
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