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German health minister urges discipline to clamp down on coronavirus

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Germany will see in the coming days whether the measures agreed to control the spread of the coronavirus are tough enough, and more people need stick to the rules to keep infections at a manageable level, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Thursday.

“It’s important to understand that we are not powerless against this virus. We can do something, we all can make a difference every day,” Spahn told Deutschlandfunk radio on Thursday.

“We can be the spoilsport for the virus if we are careful with one another and keep the number of new infections to a level we can handle.”

Spahn warned that people’s behaviour in the coming days would determine whether they will be able to spend Christmas with their families this year.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn receives an influenza injection from doctor Harald Bias at Charite hospital, during the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Berlin, Germany, 14 October 2020. EPA-EFE/HANNIBAL HANSCHKE

Warnings mounted in Germany that it was up to the citizens of Europe’s biggest economy to do their part to halt the spread of the coronavirus pandemic as daily new infections reached a record on Thursday.

“There can be no question anymore now that this is the start of a very big second wave,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, Helge Braun, told public broadcaster ARD.

“At the start of this second wave it is up to us to stop the infections. The longer we wait and the less decisive we are, the more it will impact not only our health but also our economy,” he added.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged young people to do their part to halt the spread of the coronavirus after private parties were repeatedly blamed for localized outbreaks in German cities.

“We must call especially on young people to do without a few parties now in order to have a good life tomorrow or the day after,” Merkel said at a news conference after agreeing additional measures against coronavirus with the heads of Germany’s 16 states.

By European standards, Germany has experienced relatively low infection and death rates so far during the pandemic, but new daily cases have jumped in recent weeks.

They have now reached a record of 6,638, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 341,223, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Thursday.

The previous record daily increase was 6,294 on March 28, according to RKI data.

Germany’s states agreed late on Wednesday to extend measures against the spread of the coronavirus to larger parts of the country as new cases soared, but Merkel warned even tougher steps may be needed.

Thursday’s tally showed the reported death toll rose by 33 to 9,710.

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