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No reason to relax: Merkel warns Germans that lockdown WON'T be lifted as Covid-19 infections soar

No reason to relax: Merkel warns Germans that lockdown WON'T be lifted as Covid-19 infections soar
Angela Merkel has urged Germans to continue to cooperate with a nationwide shutdown aimed at halting the coronavirus pandemic, arguing that the large number of daily infections means that the measures must remain in place.

In a weekly podcast, the German chancellor thanked the nation for complying with a comprehensive shutdown of non-essential activities, as well as for following social distancing guidelines, but said that the country was still a long way from returning to normal.

"I must ask you to be patient. Unfortunately, the daily numbers of new infections still give us no reason to relax the rules," she said, without specifying when the shutdown might end.

Her chief of staff, Helge Braun, told media on Saturday that the measures will not be eased before at least April 20.

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Merkel, who is still in quarantine after coming into contact with a doctor infected with Covid-19, noted that the number of new cases in Germany has roughly doubled every 5.5 days. Although the number of new infections has slowed since the start of the outbreak, she stressed that the country's health system was still at risk of being dangerously overburdened.

Germany has registered 6,294 new cases, according to the latest figures published by the Robert Koch Institute, bringing the nationwide total to 48,582. The respiratory illness has killed 325 people in Germany since the pandemic began more than two months ago in Wuhan, China.

The country has shuttered schools, shops, restaurants and public places in an effort to stop the spread of the disease.

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The number of confirmed cases in the country is among the highest in Europe, with only Italy and Spain reporting more. Germany has been seen as an anomaly, however, due to its surprisingly low death rate when compared to other nations.

Infections worldwide surpassed 600,000 on Saturday, according to Johns Hopkins University, with deaths exceeding 28,000.

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