© Reuters. Closed shop can be seen in Cologne
By Andreas Rinke
BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany is extending its embargo until April 18 and is urging citizens to stay home five days during the Easter break to break a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chancellor Angela Merkel said early Tuesday .
In talks that lasted late into the night, Merkel urged the leaders of Germany’s 16 federal states to take a tougher stance on fighting the pandemic and reversed plans for a gradual reopening of the economy that began earlier this month after a sharp increase in the infection rate had been agreed.
“We are now in a very serious situation,” she told journalists at a press conference, adding that Germany was in a race against time to vaccinate its population against the coronavirus.
Germany cautiously began easing restrictions earlier this month. However, the spread of more infectious variants of the virus has skyrocketed cases and raised concerns that hospitals may soon become overburdened without further restrictions.
The Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases stated that the number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants per week was 107 on Monday and was thus above the 100 threshold above which capacities in intensive care units become scarce. More than 3,000 people with COVID-19 were in intensive care beds on Sunday.
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