Merkel Warns 58 Million Germans Predicted to Catch Coronavirus
Germany expects 60-70% of population to get virus as COVID-19 engulfs Europe
German Chancellor Angel Merkel has warned that her government predicts that up to 70 percent of Germany's population will catch coronavirus as the deadly virus continues to engulf Europe.
In a statement Tuesday, Merkel said Germany is bracing for up to 58 million Germans to become infected with the new coronavirus, officially called COVID-19.
While addressing a parliamentary group meeting of her Christian Democratic Union party in Berlin Tuesday, Merkel warned as many as "60 to 70 percent" will contract the disease if it continues to spiral out of control.
Merkel issued the warning as the contagion threatened to rip through Europe, according to insiders who spoke to German newspaper Bild.
Health Minister Jens Spahn pointed out during the meeting, however, that 80 percent of all infected patients would have almost no symptoms.
The World Health Organization (WHO) also warned Tuesday that the infection is now transmitting between humans in nearly 30 countries across Europe.
Fears of the life-threatening infection have now engulfed the continent, which has recorded more than 17,000 cases and over 700 deaths in Europe alone, according to the Daily Mail.
Europe's crisis – centered in northern Italy but now rapidly spreading – began with a handful of imported cases from China, but has now seen tourist attractions and transport hubs deserted.
Italy went into a nationwide lockdown on Monday night and today recorded its highest single-day toll to date with 168 fatalities.
This pushed the number of deaths outside China to more than 1,000.
France recorded a 70 percent rise in cases over Monday night, with more than 1,200 patients now known to have caught the deadly infection.
The country's health ministry gave chemists the green light to produce their own hydro-alcoholic hand sanitizer gels following a shortage.
Germany and Spain also saw huge spikes in the number of infected patients, while the UK's toll has risen eight-fold in the space of a week.
Albania today became the latest nation to be struck down, meaning only a handful of countries across the continent have yet to record a case.
Merkel added to fears of mass-infection when she said up to 58 million of her countrymen could contract the fast-spreading contagion.
When she made the announcement there was silence among other politicians at the meeting, Bild reported.
Merkel told her party: "Sixty to 70 percent of people in Germany will become infected with the coronavirus.
"We are facing a challenge that we have never had before."
Germany, which has so far seen two deaths from the disease that has infected more than 110,000 people worldwide, has a population of 82.9 million people.
Under new measures brought in on Monday, Germany introduced drive-through health screenings where health officials are able to swab patients for the killer infection while they sit in their cars.
Today it was announced that large cultural events in the German capital's theatres, operas and concert houses will be canceled from tomorrow to prevent coronavirus contagion.
The measure will remain in place until April 19, and will also affect concerts at the renowned Berlin Philharmonic, Berlin's point man on culture, Klaus Lederer, said Tuesday, adding that it was 'regrettable but one must assume the responsibility'.
Organizers of smaller shows in locations holding up to 500 people will have to decide individually if their events will go ahead, in accordance with the guidance given by the federal disease control center Robert Koch Institute.
Everything that is non-essential should be canceled to contain the virus, Merkel said, adding: "Games behind closed doors are not the worst thing that can happen in this country."
Germany's biggest cluster of infected patients is in the country's most populous state North Rhine-Westphalia, where 323 cases have been reported in the district of Heinsberg alone.
Two people have also died of the virus in the state.
As of Monday, Germany had registered 1,139 coronavirus cases with two fatalities, according to government data.
The outbreak is hitting the German economy through cancellations in the tourism sector and industry is expected to suffer supply chain problems in the coming weeks, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier added today.
Merkel told lawmakers from her conservative bloc that Germany does not need an economic stimulus plan now to counter the impact of the coronavirus but rather liquidity injections.
Iran announced 43 new deaths from the virus in the past 24 hours, bringing the overall toll to 237 dead, one of the world's highest.
The Islamic Republic confirmed 595 new cases across the country bringing their overall confirmed cases to 7,161.
Globally, more than 114,000 people have been infected and over 4,000 have died from the illness since the outbreak began in China in December.