Populists who call coronavirus harmless are "dangerous and irresponsible," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday, adding that disinformation damages the fight against coronavirus.
Merkel's latest comments follow her announcement that Germany is set to impose impose a partial lockdown, which will see restaurants, bars and clubs closed as COVID-19 cases grow in order to avoid a national health emergency.
"Lies and disinformation, conspiracy, and hatred damage not only the democratic debate, but also the fight against the virus," Merkel said on Thursday. "It is only with solidarity and transparency that we will be able to confront the pandemic."
Merkel's speech on Thursday was disrupted by shouts from opposition parliamentarians, with lawmakers from Germany's far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party interrupting several times.
Merkel also warned the coronavirus situation in Germany is worsening and if the current trajectory continues, intensive care units could be overwhelmed in the coming weeks. She added that schools and kindergartens should remain open with increased hygiene measures.
"The measures we take now are suitably necessary and proportionate," Merkel said.
"Freedom is not doing what everybody wants but freedom is responsibility," she said. "We are in a dramatic situation -- it affects us all."