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Germany’s infection quota increases beyond one, days after easing restraints

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Germany’s coronavirus infection quota has jumped beyond one, just days after federal and regional authorities eased restraints. Keeping the patient ‘reproduction rate’ down is decisive, say epidemiologists, DW reports. On Wednesday, as Chancellor Angela Merkel and state premiers announced easing of social distancing coupled with wearing masks, the rate was 0.65.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 667 to 169,218, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Sunday. The reported death toll rose by 13 to 7,395, the tally showed.

Demonstration 'Lateral thinking' against coronavirus restrictions in Stuttgart

In another development over 3,000 people rallied in Munich and thousands more gathered in Stuttgart and across Germany on Saturday to demand the lifting of restrictions ordered by the German authorities. Many of the protesters defied the guidelines which call for a limited number of participants and for social distancing to be maintained during such events.

The protesters accuse politicians and medical workers of spreading panic and infringing on the population’s rights with the prolonged lockdown. Some of the rallies included anti-vaccination activists.

Angela Merkel speaks at CDU party convention

On the economic front, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief budget lawmaker said that Germany will have to work on another supplementary budget to help the state’s social security system cushion the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Eckhardt Rehberg told RND media group in an interview that federal and state governments were likely to get about 100 billion euros less in tax revenues this year than previously estimated due to the effects of the coronavirus crisis.

“If the five years to 2024 are summed up, there will probably be a minus in the middle three-digit billion euro range,” Rehberg said, adding that the federal government therefore had to work on another supplementary budget.

“I see little scope for large and permanent tax cuts,” Rehberg said, adding that he was also against cash incentives for consumers to buy a new car.

Germany has already approved an initial rescue package worth over 750 billion euros to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, with the government taking on new debt for the first time since 2013. The first package agreed in March comprises a debt-financed supplementary budget of 156 billion euros and a stabilisation fund worth 600 billion euros for loans to struggling businesses and direct stakes in companies. Finance Minister Olaf Scholz will present updated tax revenue estimates for all state levels on May 14.

In the last few years bumper tax revenues have contributed to a budget surplus. However, Europe’s biggest economy is braced for its deepest recession since World War Two due to the coronavirus lockdown.

European Single Market

The coronavirus pandemic has shown Europe is too reliant on other countries for some medical supplies, and European states should work together to further diversify international supply chains, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier told Reuters.

“Germany, which will take over the rotating EU presidency from July on, feels a special responsibility in the coronavirus crisis to actively shape Europe in a spirit of solidarity,” Altmaier said in remarks cleared for publication on Saturday. Altmaier, a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, said the single market remained the economic backbone of the European Union and the envy of many other countries, even more so in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The current crisis shows that we have to avoid one-sided dependency and diversify international supply chains to a greater extent,” Altmaier said, adding that Europe had to become less dependent on non-European suppliers of medical precursors as well as medical protection gear such as masks.

“For this we need a European industrial strategy to strengthen the industrial base in Europe, combined with good framework conditions, especially for small and medium-sized companies,” Altmaier told Reuters. But the minister insisted that such a strategy had to be compatible with the rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), adding: “The current crisis does not mean a farewell to globalisation. On the contrary, it underlines the importance of clear international trade rules that everyone must abide by.”

Schalke 04 training

 

Sport

Meanwhile Germany’s plans to restart competitive soccer on May 16 suffered an early setback after the entire team of second tier Dynamo Dresden were placed in a two-week quarantine following two positive coronavirus tests. The Bundesliga 2 club announced on their website that tests taken on Friday had revealed two new positive cases and local health authorities had ordered the team into quarantine.

CD eNews / Reuters / DW

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