German Prime Minister Angela Merkel withdrew on Wednesday (24) from total confinement during the Easter holidays, which she had announced the day before.
Merkel said the announcement was a personal error and apologized to the public for causing the uncertainty.
With the number of new cases on the rise for four consecutive weeks, the prime minister had said all stores would be closed April 1-5, except markets on Saturdays – which could have led to a rush to supermarkets. , which would have remained overcrowded.
The measures have been questioned by epidemiologists and politicians from her own ruling coalition, prompting Merkel to back down.
Business associations have also said it would be unthinkable to shut down entire factories for five consecutive days, and conservative politicians have criticized the decision to require churches to have Easter ceremonies only take place online – the date, which represents the resurrection of Jesus, is considered. by many Christians for being the most important of the year.
According to German media reports, Merkel met this morning by teleconference with the governors of the 16 states and admitted the mistake. “If possible, we have to correct it in time. I think it’s still possible, ”he said, according to reporters.
The decision to postpone the easing of restrictions in areas with more than 100 new cases per 100,000 population per week has been upheld.
Merkel has expressed concern over the growth of new cases, driven by the B.117 variant, which is more contagious and deadly. “We basically have a new pandemic now,” she said on Tuesday.
The number of new positive tests jumped 20% in the tenth week of this year, after hovering between highs of 2% to 5% in the previous three weeks.
The Prime Minister wants to both maintain transmission and speed up the vaccination campaign in the country. “Science shows us clearly: the lower the number of new infections, the faster the vaccination will take effect. The higher the new infections, the longer it takes for vaccinations to have an impact,” he said. declared.
Europe’s largest economy and vaccine maker, Germany has so far administered just under 13 doses per 100 people, well below the UK’s 45/100 and behind several smaller countries in the Union European.
EU national governments have attributed the lack of vaccines to the slowness of their campaigns, but many have yet to use their available doses – such as Germany, which has so far applied 73% of the nearly 14 million available doses.
In addition to loopholes in the organization, the country was part of a group of Europeans who restricted the use of the AstraZeneca immunizer more than once, creating insecurity about the product and resistance to vaccination.
At the end of January, the German health authorities did not authorize the administration of the vaccine to the elderly, considering that data on its effectiveness in this age group were lacking, despite the positive recommendation of the European regulatory agency.
The warning was lifted in early March, but 15 days later the country again stopped using the vaccine to assess the risks of unwanted side effects. The result was a drop in German confidence, according to a poll conducted by the YouGov institute at the end of last week.
The share of Germans who consider the AstraZeneca vaccine dangerous has increased by 15 points in one month, to 55%, while the share of those who believe it safe has fallen to 32%, 11 points lower than that recorded in February. Of the 3.4 million doses of this vaccine available in Germany, only half have been used.
Despite the rise in contagions, the country has always managed to control the number of new deaths. It has declined successively since the start of this year, ending the tenth week at less than 1,500, after reaching 6,112 in the first week of January.
Germany has the largest hospital infrastructure in Europe, which helps reduce deaths, but accelerated contagion with a variant that produces more serious illnesses, like B.117, is already putting pressure on ICUs, the ICU said. Prime Minister.
Coronavirus infections have increased in several European countries, mainly due to the fatigue of populations with prolonged confinements and the increase in circulation and contacts.