Germany’s economy minister said the nation should be prepared for a months-long lockdown period to address surging coronavirus caseloads.
“We’re not out of the woods yet”, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier told weekly Bild am Sonntag, according to Reuters. “We cannot afford a yo-yo shutdown with the economy constantly opening and closing.”
“If we don’t want days with 50,000 new infections, as was the case in France a few weeks ago, we must see through this and not constantly speculate about which measures can be relaxed again,” he told the publication. “All countries that lifted their restrictions too early have so far paid a high price in terms of human lives lost.”
Germany is one of several European nations that has reimposed restrictions during the second wave of the virus. While it has re-closed businesses like cafes and restaurants, it has not closed schools or retailers.
The World Medical Association chair, meanwhile, has warned German hospitals are in danger of being overwhelmed, according to Reuters.
“My forecast is that we will have to talk about further restrictions rather than any easing,” Frank Ulrich Montgomery told Augsburger Allgemeine, a German daily.
Chancellor Angela Merkel also warned last week that the second wave of the virus would likely be “more severe” than the initial outbreak.
“As it was the case with the Spanish flu, we now also have to expect that the second wave will be more severe,” she told economic advisers on Wednesday.
Germany recorded 261 deaths, the highest daily number since April, last week. Overall new infections fell slightly, but Health Minister Jens Spahn warned that “we still cannot talk of a trend reversal” despite “signs of change.”
“This is encouraging but it is not enough,” he told German broadcaster RTL last week.
Germany’s totals are just under 800,000 infections and 12,511 deaths as of Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins University.