German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that up to 70% of the country’s population, some 58 million people could contract coronavirus.
Merkel made the stark prediction at a news conference on Wednesday, March 11, 2020 alongside Health Minister Jens Spahn.
She added that since there is no known cure, the focus would fall on slowing the spread of the virus.
Her remarks came as Italy entered its second day of a National lock down.
Germany confirmed its third coronavirus-related death on Wednesday, in the badly affected district of Heinsberg in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
The first fatality was an 89-year-old woman who died in the town of Essen, the second a 78-year-old man with pre-existing health conditions who died in Heinsberg.
Germany has so far reported 1,296 cases of the virus, according to figures released by the Robert Koch Institute, RKI for disease control late on Tuesday. The RKI says the virus poses a moderate risk to the German public.
The Chancellor warned that border closures would not be enough to prevent the spread of the virus. She ruled out following Austria’s lead in banning visitors from Italy.
Virologist Alexander Kekulé, a former Federal Government advisor on disease control, told German media that in the worst case scenario a maximum of 40,000 people in the country would get the virus. He said this estimation was based on the number of cases in China, where the rate of new infections is slowing.
He had earlier said that the German government missed opportunities to contain the outbreak further by shutting schools and cancelling events.
The City’s Health Minister, Dilek Kalayci, noted that the virus continues to spread, in such a phase and public life must be restricted.
Kalayci added tha the spread of the coronavirus can be slowed down by reducing major events. as such restriction is important.