Merkel warns of dramatic coronavirus situation, criticises populists who say virus is harmless

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German intensive care units risk being overwhelmed in a few weeks due to a surge in coronavirus cases, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday.

“We are in a dramatic situation,” Merkel told the lower house of parliament a day after announcing a circuit-break lockdown to curb the spread of the virus. 

She added  that populists who purport the coronavirus is harmless are dangerous and irresponsible, adding the pandemic is a challenge for the democratic system.

“It is only with solidarity and transparency that we will be able to confront the pandemic,” she said.

She added that this winter will be hard but she added that it would eventually end.

“The winter will be hard,” she said. “Four long, hard months. But it will end.”

Merkel also said preparations for coronavirus vaccinations in Germany are underway and the government is working on ethical guidelines on who vaccines should be available for.

Earlier, Merkel’s chief  told broadcaster ARD he was optimistic that a circuit-breaker lockdown agreed for November would be able to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed with coronavirus patients.

Helge Braun also said the lockdown that Merkel agreed with state premiers aimed to allow the economy to function more normally in December, a key month for some businesses.

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel ordered their countries back into lockdown on Wednesday, as a massive second wave of coronavirus infections threatened to overwhelm Europe before the winter.

Germany will shut bars, restaurants and theatres from Nov. 2-30 under measures agreed between Merkel and heads of regional governments. Schools will stay open, and shops will be allowed to operate with strict limits on access.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 16,774 to 481,013, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Thursday.

The reported death toll rose by 89 to 10,272, the tally showed. 

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