COVID-19 must be taken seriously, Says German Chancellor

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel

Even though Germany has weathered the coronavirus pandemic relatively well, it is not out of danger yet, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday.

Merkel warned residents against reckless behaviour.

“The danger posed by the virus remains serious,’’ she said, pointing to several regions where outbreaks are currently spreading quickly.

She reminded residents that stopping the spread of the coronavirus was everyone’s obligation, which means continuing to adhere to social distancing and hygiene rules.

“Take it seriously, because it’s serious,’’ she said in her weekly video message released on Saturday.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Germany’s infectious diseases body, reported early Saturday that it had recorded 687 new infections in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number to 193,243.

The virus death toll grew by six, to reach 8,954, added the RKI.

In the districts of Guetersloh and Warendorf, where an outbreak stemming from a meat-processing facility had forced more than 600,000 people into lockdown by Tuesday, the infection rate has been falling.

However, while Warendorf is below the figure of 50 new infections per 100,000 – the point at which increased controls are triggered – Guetersloh is still well above that number, with 1642 cases per 100,000 on Saturday.

Roughly 1,000 FC Schalke football club fans gathered near an arena on Saturday to protest against the owner of the meat-processing facility, who is also a chairman on the team’s supervisory board.

Clemens Toennies has come under fire for the outbreak at his factory, where it is alleged that health and sanitary guidelines were not followed.

“Schalke fans have had to be ashamed recently of their fandom,’’ said another organiser, Katharina Strohmeyer.

“But we expect the team’s management to live up to our mission statement,’’ she added.

Protesters held banners reading “Our board – a social and moral flop!” or “The biggest bulldozer won’t help anymore! Toennies gone!”

dpa/NAN

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