German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday called on citizens to support new measures against COVID-19, stressing that a “partial lockdown” starting next week was now necessary to prevent a national health crisis.

Speaking at the parliament on her government’s “lockdown light” plan, Merkel said a rapid increase in new infections and patients in intensive care units in the last two weeks has been a worrying development.

“Because there are so many new cases of infections. we can no longer trace the origin of the infections, and this means that we cannot contain the spread,” she said, adding that an estimated 75% of cases cannot be traced anymore.

Merkel said that a partial lockdown beginning on Monday — which would see cafes, pubs and restaurants forced to close for at least a month — will help minimize social contacts.

“The measures we have to take now are necessary, appropriate and commensurable,” she said.

The chancellor warned that unless the spread of the virus is brought under control. Germany’s intensive care units would be overwhelmed only within a few weeks.

New measures 

According to the government’s partial lockdown plan, from Monday onwards, bars, cafes and restaurants will be ordered to close apart from deliveries and takeaways.

Hotels will not be allowed to accommodate tourists. Cultural and leisure facilities will also be closed for at least four weeks.

Social gatherings will be restricted to 10 participants from a maximum of two different households.

Schools and kindergartens will remain open, but local authorities will take measures to ensure compliance with social distancing and hygiene rules.

Record daily increase 

Germany on Thursday reported a record daily jump in coronavirus cases for the second consecutive day.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) confirmed 16,774 cases in the past 24 hours, the highest daily total recorded for the entire pandemic period.

Local health authorities reported 89 more COVID-19 related deaths, bringing the total death toll to 10,272.

The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units has doubled over the past two weeks, reaching 1,569 on Wednesday. Nearly half of them were on ventilators.

With total cases of nearly 480,000, Germany has the fifth-highest tally of reported COVID-19 infections in Europe, ranking behind France, Spain, the UK and Italy. But its death toll remains far lower than other hard-hit countries.

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