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German minister says too early to say how long lockdown curbs will last

German minister says too early to say how long lockdown curbs will last

A closed restaurant is pictured during the temporary closing of restaurants and bars as the spread COVID-19 continues in Munich, on Nov 11, 2020. (Photo: AP/Matthias Schrader)

BERLIN: Germany's health minister said on Friday it is too early to say whether restrictions imposed last week to curb the spread of the coronavirus will need to be extended beyond November.

"It is actually too early to assess this now," Jens Spahn told ARD television. "We will see in the next few days whether they are making a difference."

The number of new daily coronavirus cases in Germany hit a record of 23,542 on Friday, around 1,700 more than on Thursday, bringing the total to 751,095, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases reported.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of Germany's states are due to meet on Monday to review whether partial lockdown measures imposed on Nov. 2 have been enough to slow a steep rise in new infections that risks overwhelming hospitals.

Spahn warned that it was unlikely life would go back to normal in December and said winter events like office Christmas parties, birthdays and wedding were unlikely to go ahead.

"We never said that November would be so hard and then everything would be like before."

Bavarian premier Markus Soeder also cautioned against lifting curbs too quickly, saying the aim must be to reduce the seven-day incidence of the virus to below 50 per 100,000 residents. Germany currently has 139 cases per 100,000 residents, according to the RKI.

"It's like medicine. If we just lower the numbers a little bit now and stop too soon, we might fall into a constant alternation of lockdown and opening," Soeder told the Muenchner Merkur newspaper.

"That would be hard for people to understand. Therefore, we have to continue with the treatment we have started until successful."

(This story corrects number of infections to 751,095 from 751,09 in third paragraph and spelling of Muenchner Merkur newspaper)

(Reporting by Caroline Copley, editing by Thomas Escritt and Catherine Evans)

Source: Reuters/ga


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