Merkel urges premiers to stick to tighter coronavirus restrictions

By Martina Herzog, dpa

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has increased pressure on the premiers of the country’s 16 states to stick to an agreed tightening of coronavirus rules due to rising infection numbers.

Speaking on the Anne Will talk show on Sunday evening, Merkel said some states were not following through with a so-called emergency brake, which states agreed to trigger after a certain number of infections.

“We have to implement the right measures with great seriousness. And some states are doing it, others are not,” Merkel said in the interview broadcast by ARD.

She called on those states to reverse plans to open up and implement measures such as tighter limits on social contacts, curfews and requirements to work from home.

“I will not sit and watch until we have 100,000 infections,” said the chancellor.

Germany is experiencing a severe third wave of infections driven mainly by the British coronavirus variant.

But the federal government and the country’s 16 states are increasingly at odds about how to contain it, with some refusing to go along with a plan to return to a harder lockdown in areas where the infection rate remains comparatively low.

Merkel said the low numbers were not stable in those regions. “That’s why it is not the time to consider” such easings, she said.

Markus Soeder, the powerful premier of the southern state of Bavaria, criticized his counterparts in other states on Sunday, saying some had not “understood the seriousness of the situation.”

Speaking to the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper, Soeder said that state leaders needed to focus on “the consistent implementation of the emergency brake.”

The seven-day incidence rate per 100,000 inhabitants, a key metric in measuring the infection rate, rose to 129.7 on Sunday – significantly higher than the 100 mark that is meant to trigger the emergency brake.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for disease control said the metric had not reached Sunday’s level since January 19. On Saturday, the figure had stood at 124.9, after having passed the 100-mark a week ago.

Health authorities reported 17,176 new cases to the RKI within one day and 90 deaths related to the virus.

Meanwhile, a new study has found that the death rate among Covid-19 patients in German university hospitals fell significantly over the course of 2020.

A research group from the University of Erlangen found that improved treatments and the growing experience of clinical teams may be contributing to this trend.

The analysis shows a decrease in the average death rate from 20.7 per cent between January and April to 12.7 per cent between May and September. The data set includes 1,300 Covid-19 patients in 14 German university hospitals.

Overall, almost a fifth of all Covid-19 patients (18.8 per cent) died in the 14 clinics from January to September.

For people on ventilators, the death rate between January to April reached 39.8 per cent. In the later period, it fell slightly to around a third (33.7 per cent).

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