Merkel urges Ger­mans to work to­gether again to slow virus

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - ELECTION 2020 - By David Ris­ing

BER­LIN — Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel urged Ger­mans to come to­gether like they did in the spring to slow the spread of the coro­n­avirus as the coun­try posted an­other daily record of new cases Satur­day.

“Dif­fi­cult months are ahead of us,” she said in her weekly video pod­cast. “How win­ter will be, how our Christ­mas will be, that will all be de­cided in th­ese com­ing days and weeks, and it will be de­cided by our be­hav­ior.”

Mean­while, new re­stric­tions went into ef­fect in sev­eral other Euro­pean na­tions in an ef­fort to staunch the resur­gence of the pan­demic.

In Paris and eight other French cities, restau­rants, bars, movie the­aters and other es­tab­lish­ments were be­ing forced to close no later than 9 p.m. to try to re­duce con­tact among peo­ple. The coun­try was de­ploy­ing 12,000 ex­tra po­lice of­fi­cers to en­force the new rules.

Many restau­rant own­ers have bris­tled at the or­der. An ear­lier month­s­long lock­down dev­as­tated the sec­tor.

“I have the right to ques­tion the gov­ern­ment’s ap­proach, I think it’s a cat­a­strophic mea­sure for the in­dus­try,” said Xavier De­na­mur, who owns sev­eral bistros in Paris’s chic Le Marais district.

In Bri­tain, a three-tier re­gional ap­proach to bat­tle the pan­demic in­tro­duced by Prime Min­is­ter Boris John­son went into ef­fect, with each level bring­ing pro­gres­sively tighter re­stric­tions.

On Satur­day, tier-2 cities like Lon­don and York were sub­ject to a ban on so­cial­iz­ing with peo­ple from other house­holds in­doors, while the county of Lan­cashire joined Liver­pool in tier 3 with the tight­est re­stric­tions.

The World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion has warned that

in­ten­sive care units in a num­ber of Euro­pean cities could reach max­i­mum ca­pac­ity in the com­ing weeks if the num­ber of in­fec­tions doesn’t slow.

Aus­trian For­eign Min­is­ter Alexan­der Schal­len­berg joined the list of top politi­cians who have tested pos­i­tive for the virus, and was quar­an­tined though he showed no symp­toms, his of­fice told Aus­tria’s APA news agency.

Ger­man Pres­i­dent Frank-Wal­ter Stein­meier, the coun­try’s head of state, was quar­an­tined af­ter a body­guard was in­fected, his of­fice said. A first test came out neg­a­tive.

Ger­many, which was widely lauded for rapidly slow­ing the spread of the virus when the pan­demic first broke out, has seen rapidly climb­ing num­bers in re­cent days. On Satur­day, the coun­try’s dis­ease con­trol cen­ter, theRobertK­och In­sti­tute, re­ported 7,830 cases overnight, a record.

Ger­many has reg­is­tered al­most 362,000 coro­n­avirus cases and nearly 9,800 deaths, ac­cord­ing to Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity data.

Merkel urged Ger­mans to avoid un­nec­es­sary travel, can­cel par­ties and re­main at home when­ever pos­si­ble.

“What brought us so well through the first half year of the pan­demic?” she asked. “It was that we stood to­gether and obeyed the rules out of con­sid­er­a­tion and com­mon sense. This is the most ef­fec­tive rem­edy we cur­rently have against the pan­demic and it is more nec­es­sary now than ever.”

In the neigh­bor­ing Czech Repub­lic, the num­ber of new in­fec­tions sur­passed 10,000 for the first time, surg­ing to 11,105 on Fri­day, theHealth Min­istry said. The coun­try has now reg­is­tered more than 164,000 cases, in­clud­ing al­most 1,350 deaths.

De­spite new re­stric­tive mea­sures to slowthe surge, Health Min­is­ter Ro­man Pry­mula said he still ex­pects a rise in those test­ing pos­i­tive for about two weeks.

Slo­vakia said it was ac­quir­ing 13 mil­lion rapid anti­gen tests — enough to test each mem­ber of the pop­u­la­tion twice — and would es­tab­lish 6,000 test­ing sites.

Prime Min­is­ter IgorMa­tovic said test­ing will take place over the next two week­ends, start­ing with the three or four hard­est hit coun­ties. It was not im­me­di­ately clear whether testswould be manda­tory.

MARTIN MEISSNER/AP

An in­di­vid­ual un­der­goes a COVID-19 test at a coro­n­avirus test­ing cen­ter Thurs­day in Ger­many, where cases are ris­ing.

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