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Merkel calls for more contact restrictions

November 25, 2021

Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel has offered to help her likely successor, Olaf Scholz, manage Germany's response to the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Angela Merkel during a press conference
Angela Merkel has been chancellor in a caretaker capacity since the general elections in SeptemberImage: John MacDougall/REUTERS

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday urged the country's incoming government to take quick, decisive measures to tackle the growing crisis over the fourth wave of coronavirus.

Germany has seen record high spike in infections, with the country's total death toll from the virus surpassing 100,000.

"The day on which we must mourn 100,000 victims of the coronavirus is a sad one," Merkel told a news conference. 

Merkel's remarks come a day after social democrat Olaf Scholz presented his new ruling coalition with the Greens and Free Democrats, which is set to take office next month. The country had been stuck in political limbo since the general election in September, with Merkel governing only in a caretaker capacity.

She told reporters that "every day counts" to prevent things from getting worse.

Merkel also urged more contact restrictions, saying that the country was once again facing an "exponential growth" of infections.

"So it is crucial we make sure our hospitals don't get overburdened," she added.

The outgoing chancellor said she told Scholz that "we can still manage this transition period together and look at all necessary measures."

Selective surgeries delayed

In the absence of clear leadership from Berlin, federal states have been left managing the crisis. On Thursday, the health ministers of all of Germany's 16 states unanimously called on elective surgery to be postponed countrywide.

"It is clear to all of us that the situation is very, very serious," Bavarian Health Minister Klaus Holetschek told the DPA news agency, following the meeting.

Germany marks a grim COVID milestone

Holetschek also spoke about the cooperation between states at this critical time, thanking those with  spare intensive care capacity for taking in patients from badly affected areas. 

Currently, transfers are being planned from Bavaria, Saxony and Thuringia, with the German air force on standby to assist with the transfer of patients.

jcg/dj (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

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