Merkel warns as Germany’s Covid death toll tops 100,000

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel issued an urgent warning on pandemic management on Thursday to the new government coming in to succeed her, imploring it to take quick, decisive measures as the country’s total death toll passed 100,000.

Speaking one day after Olaf Scholz presented his new centre-left-led ruling coalition due to take office next month, the outgoing Merkel told reporters that “every day counts” as Germany continues to smash daily coronavirus infection records.

“We need more contact restrictions,” Merkel said, adding that she had “today clearly told” Scholz that “we can still manage this transition period together and look at all necessary measures”.

Calling Thursday a “sad day” over the grim death toll, Merkel, a trained scientist, said she had sought dialogue with Scholz, a Social Democrat, and the leaders of his coalition partners Greens and the libertarian FDP because of the gravity of the situation.

Germany weathered earlier bouts of the pandemic better than many other European countries, but has seen a recent resurgence, with intensive care beds rapidly filling up.

Europe’s largest economy recorded 351 Covid fatalities in the past 24 hours, bringing the official death toll since the start of the pandemic to 100,119.

The weekly incidence rate also hit an all-time high of 419.7 new infections per 100,000 people, the Robert Koch Institute health agency said.

The escalating health crisis poses a baptism of fire for the new government. The country has been stuck in political limbo since the September 26 general election, with the popular Merkel governing only in a caretaker capacity.

Her Health Minister Jens Spahn warned this week that most Germans would be “vaccinated, cured or dead” from Covid-19 by winter’s end, as he urged more citizens to get jabbed.—Agencies

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