Berlin, Aug 28 (efe-epa).- German chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday that the unpredictable development of the pandemic has compelled the government to adapt its response and measures accordingly, while also warning the country to continue taking the threat posed by Covid-19 seriously.
Merkel was speaking during her traditional annual press conference after the summer recess, a perdio which has seen a resurgence in coronavirus infections.
“We have to expect that things will be even harder in the coming months than in summer,” she said.
The pandemic “is serious – as serious as it ever was,” Merkel said, and urged her compatriots to “keep taking it seriously.”
“We will have to keep living with this virus,” she added.
The chancellor pledged to protect the country’s most vulnerable and worst-hit groups, particularly the elderly and children, whose education has already been majorly disrupted by widespread school closures since the start of the pandemic in the spring.
Merkel said the government would make sure Germany’s “children are not the losers of the pandemic. School and daycare must be the most important things.”
According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the country’s disease control center, the return to school- which has been staggered across the states – has not been the main factor for the spike in new infections.
These have been linked mainly to family gatherings, religious events, parties or during vacations abroad, which account for 39% of new infections.
The chancellor also said “lessons” needed to be learned from the summer period, which has seen a spike in cases associated with holidaymakers returning from abroad.
Travel warnings have been reimposed for people returning from so-called “high-risk” countries, including Spain, which has seen a major resurgence of infections.
“They are developments that we could not predict,” Merkel said, calling the pandemic an “unprecedented challenge”.
“I believe that we have taken decisions up to now in accordance with the best of our knowledge,” she said.
On Thursday, Merkel and Germany’s 16 state prime ministers agreed to impose a 14-day quarantine for travelers returning from high-risk countries unless they can provide a negative coronavirus test within five days of their arrival.
The chancellor said that all non-essential journeys to these high-risk areas should be avoided.
Germany has topped 1,500 new daily infections every day since Aug. 22, when that figure passed 2,000, the highest toll since the end of April.
Between the end of March and the beginning of April, the figures for new daily infections stood at 6,000 a day. EFE-EPA