Coronavirus May Infect up to 70% of Germany: Chancellor Merkel

Germany had confirmed 1,300 infections as of Wednesday, with two deaths.

Published12 Mar 2020, 07:46 AM IST
World
2 min read

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday, cited expert estimates that up to 70 per cent of the population could be infected by the new coronavirus as she insists on the necessity of measures to slow its spread.

Germany had confirmed 1,300 infections as of Wednesday, with two deaths.

The government has recommended the cancellation of all events with more than 1,000 people, among other things.

“You have to understand that if the virus is there, and the population has no immunity yet to this virus, there are no vaccines and no therapy so far, a high percentage – experts say 60 to 70% – of the population will be infected.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel

She added the priority is to slow the spread of the disease "so all the measures we are taking are of the greatest significance because they are giving us time – it does matter what we do, it is not in vain."

Ending the Virus Crisis Comes First

Merkel vowed Wednesday to do everything it takes to tame the coronavirus crisis, signalling she is even ready to suspend the cherished dogma of keeping Germany's budget balanced.

“It is an extraordinary situation, we will do what’s necessary and luckily Germany is relatively robust...we will do what we can to get through this situation well, and we will see at the end of that where our budget stands”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel

She stressed that ending the virus crisis "comes first".

Maintaining a balanced or "black zero" budget has been a key selling point of Merkel's government, which believes that it would be irresponsible for the fast ageing nation to incur more debt that would ultimately be left to a shrinking workforce to pay off.

But with the coronavirus outbreak forcing some countries to shut borders, companies to keep workforces home and foreign orders to collapse, calls have grown for Merkel's government to help prop up Germany's economy.

“An economy like Germany’s, which is extremely export dependent, is of course harder hit by global challenges” than one that is very concentrated on domestic demand, Merkel acknowledged, saying the government will announce liquidity help for firms this week.

The leader of Europe's biggest economy said she was also prepared to look the other way if severely hit EU nations such as Italy were to flout the EU's rules on limiting budget deficits as it fights the virus.

"On the European level regarding the (EU's) stability and growth pact, we will be flexible. That was an important conclusion yesterday," she said, referring to a telephone conference with EU leaders when the bloc agreed to do what it takes to shield the economy.

Merkel's press conference on Wednesday marked her first outing before the press on COVID-19 and comes as Germany's biggest daily Bild accused her on its front page of failing to take charge in the crisis.

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