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Coronavirus pandemic: Merkel: three areas to consider in possible strategy for re-opening

Coronavirus pandemic : Merkel: three areas to consider in possible strategy for re-opening

It’s like walking a tightrope for political leaders who have to decide which path to take in the coming weeks: on the one side there is the possibility of easing up on the corona restrictions and on the other is the worry that this may lead to rising case numbers.

Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) is again advocating for caution in any possible reopening strategy in light of concerns about a third wave of coronavirus.

Steps to open up must be introduced wisely and coupled with increased testing, Merkel said on Monday, according to participants in online discussions of the CDU party leadership. Citizens are longing for things to open up again and she said she understands that.

Merkel made it clear that she saw three separate categories that have to be considered in a possible strategy to open up Germany. In each of these categories, they would have to find the appropriate steps to be taken. The first area concerns personal contacts, the second is schools and vocational schools, and the third includes sports groups, restaurants and arts and entertainment.

According to the information, a working group with the head of the Chancellor's Office, Helge Braun (CDU), and the heads of the state chancelleries of the federal states is to meet on the subject of re-opening starting this Tuesday. They are expected to prepare for a next conference which will include state premiers and the chancellor, scheduled for March 3. The goal is to then present plans for possible steps for opening up. According to information from sources knowledgable about the talks in the CDU leadership, Braun said that the coronavirus mutations are unfortunately destroying the positive developments that Germany has made up to now.

It was also said that the CDU presidium had discussed the possibility of involving general practitioners and company physicians in the vaccination scheme. Health Minister Jens Spahn made it clear that this would only make sense, however, if 3 to 5 million vaccine doses per week were available, as is the case with the flu vaccination. But he said that overall, the federal government's plan to pay for all corona testing starting March 1 could help. He also made it clear that the first self-testing kits would be available starting next week

The curve of new infections rose for the fourth day in a row on Sunday - despite the lockdown that has been in place since mid-December. On Monday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported little change: within one day, the health offices reported 4,369 new infections, compared to 4,426 a week ago. At the same time, however, the number of new infections reported within seven days per 100,000 inhabitants (seven-day incidence rate) continued to rise: to 61.0 nationwide. The previous day, it had still been at 60.2.

Orig. text: dpa

Translation: ck