German Chancellor Angela Merkel has defended her coronavirus strategy after Wednesday's announcement that the country's lockdown will be extended until March 7 at the earliest.
Germany is “now dealing with three aggressive mutations” Merkel said Thursday, adding that the country needs to “prepare for new variants to become dominant” and that “mutations could destroy the vaccine's success.”
Merkel said she was aware how difficult this lockdown has been for people and that she understood people's loneliness and frustration at having their freedoms curtailed. However, she reiterated that curbs were still needed due to the risk posed by new variants.
“As a democracy, it is up to us to keep these restrictions only as long as necessary -- not one day longer -- and to lift them when possible. This is exactly the objective of this government,” Merkel told lawmakers in Germany’s lower house of parliament, the Bundestag.
On Wednesday, Merkel and the state prime ministers of Germany’s 16 federal states agreed to extend lockdown until at least March 7, although some restrictions will be lifted. Schools and kindergartens will start to reopen from February 22 and hairdressers from March 1.
Merkel told lawmakers Thursday that while Germany handled the first coronavirus wave well, “we were too slow to curb the second wave.” She added that Germany would continue with its efforts to “try to keep the mutations to a small scale and hope that the seven-day incident rate can be pushed to below 50.”
The German Chancellor concluded by saying: “I will fulfil this until the last day of my time in office -- at the end we will jointly manage to vanquish this pandemic and see better days.”