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Germany Prepares for Further Coronavirus Measures

Germany Prepares for Further Coronavirus Measures

Monday, 18 January, 2021 - 10:00
German Health Minister Jens Spahn delivers his candidacy speech for deputy chairman of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) on the second day of the party's 33rd congress held online amidst the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Berlin, Germany January 16, 2021. Odd Andersen/Pool via REUTERS

Germany's health minister said on Monday that although measures to contain the coronavirus had started to have an effect, more needed to be done to bring it permanently under control.

"The (infection) numbers seem to be decreasing, which is good, but we are still a long way from where we want to be," Jens Spahn told broadcaster ARD.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and Germany's 16 state premiers will discuss what to do next on Tuesday.

New coronavirus infections have been decreasing in recent days and the occupancy of intensive care beds by COVID-19 patients has declined by 10-15%, according to Spahn.

However, the state premiers are concerned about new variants that appear to be more contagious.

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz told public broadcaster RBB on Monday he could imagine extending the current lockdown by two weeks until mid-February.

Stricter requirements for companies to allow staff to work from home, compulsory wearing of heavy-duty FFP2 masks in certain areas, restrictions on public transport and the introduction of curfews are being debated.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany rose by 7,141 to 2,040,659, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Monday. That was more than 5,000 down from the week before. The reported death toll rose by 214 to 46,633.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas fuelled discussion regarding privileges for people who had been vaccinated by saying they should be allowed to go to restaurants and cinemas sooner.

Other ministers have opposed such special rights, fearing they could cause social inequalities at a time when not everyone has the opportunity to be inoculated.

Maas's proposal was "out of the question" as long as it is not proven that a vaccination stops people from transmitting the virus too, a justice ministry spokesman said on Sunday.

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