Rise in German virus infections spurs concern
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by Yacine Le Forestier
Germany’s coronavirus spread appears to be picking up speed again, official data showed Sunday, just days after Chancellor Angela Merkel said the country could gradually return to normal.
The Robert Koch Institute for public health said Germany’s closely watched reproduction rate (R0) had climbed to 1.1, meaning 10 people with COVID-19 infect on average 11 others.
The RKI has warned that for the infection rate to be deemed under control and slowing down, the R0 has to stay below one.
As recently as Wednesday, Germany’s number stood at 0.65.
But since then the country has reported clusters of new cases at slaughterhouses and at care homes for the elderly.
The RKI cautioned it was too soon to draw conclusions but said the number of new infections “would need to be watched very closely in the coming days”.
The latest data raised alarm after Merkel only on Wednesday declared that Germany had left the “first phase” of the pandemic behind it and federal states announced relaxations of social restrictions.
Most shops and playgrounds have reopened, children are gradually returning to classrooms and states are to varying degrees reopening restaurants, gyms and places of worship.
German local authorities have however agreed to pull an “emergency brake” and reimpose social curbs if the infection rate rises above 50 cases per 100,000 residents over a week.
That has already happened in at least three districts in recent days, according to the RKI. (AFP)