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Germany’s coronavirus spread worsens

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FIRST signs that transmission of the novel coronavirus has again picked up were visible in latest official data in Germany.

  The development is coming just as the country attempts a cautious easing of its lockdown measures.

  Although reproduction or infection rate under close watch by health authorities mounted again to around 1.0, meaning each infected person passes the virus on to one other according to figures released by Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for Disease Control today, virologists are hammering home the importance of squeezing the number below 1.0.

  This is happening at a time Germany has seen days of intense media and political debate after Chancellor Angela Merkel warned federal states against loosening their lockdowns too quickly, despite the fact that since mid-April, the infection rate had sunk as low as 0.7 before inching back up again. But the mortality rate from the disease has also been rising day by day, reaching 3.8 percent according to RKI.

  The latest data showed 156,337 cases in Germany and 5,913 deaths.

  Rising infection and mortality rates could pose a puzzle for authorities, as a population chafing at lockdown measures is just beginning to enjoy some refound freedoms and an initial united front in politics and media crumbles.

  Health Minister, Jens Spahn, earlier in April declared the pandemic “under control” in Germany, as Merkel and state premiers agreed smaller shops could open and some pupils return to school from next Monday.

  Meanwhile, some major businesses like car giant Volkswagen has restarted production in recent days.

  Until now, the May 6 gathering had been expected to bring further easing of restrictions.

  Merkel’s pleas not to rush a step-by-step unwinding of lockdown for fear of again worsening the virus’ spread were dismissed or even blasted as authoritarian by some voices in media and the opposition.

  “Even if we assume that one person infects 1.1 others, we would reach the limits of what our health system and intensive care beds can manage in October. If we assume a rate of 1.2… we would reach the health system’s limit in July. And with a rate of 1.3 — it doesn’t sound like much — we would get there in June already,” she warned.

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