On Tuesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel extended the nationwide coronavirus lockdown amid reports of a new variant of the Chinese contagion appearing in Bavaria.

“Now is the time to guard against the danger posed by this mutated virus,” she declared.

Besides Germany, scientists have found mutated, and often more contagious, the Wuhan virus’s variants have n the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil. 

Merkel made a move after a meeting with the heads of all 16 German states, 14 of which are governed either by her own conservative CDU party or the left-wing ally, the Social Democrats. 

The German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported the new tightened restrictions:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of the country’s 16 states on Tuesday agreed to keep the lockdown in place and introduce tougher measures to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

The lockdown, previously set to expire at the end of January, has now been prolonged until February 14. Most shops, schools and non-essential business, such as gyms and sports centers, will remain closed. The new measures include stricter rules on the types of masks that must be worn in certain public places, and a greater onus on employers to allow working from home.

Although new infections have been decreasing in recent days and the pressure on intensive care units has eased slightly, virologists are worried that more infectious variants, such as the ones identified in the UK and South Africa might spread in the EU country.

“Now is the time to take preventive measures against the threat of this virus,” Merkel told reporters after a meeting with the state premiers.

Despite a tight nationwide lockdown in place since mid-November, the number of new infections continues to rise.

“On Tuesday, the [Germany’s] disease control center reported 11,369 newly confirmed infections and 989 deaths, for an overall death toll of 47,622,” The Associated Press reported. 

With her harsh measures failing to have any impact, Merkel finds it increasingly difficult to convince Germans to shut down their businesses and barricade themselves at home.

“Merkel is running out of arguments” for her “new tightened lockdown,” German newspaper Die Welt commented on Wednesday. 

Merkel’s much-publicized coronavirus vaccine rollout has now officially a fiasco.

“Germany’s vaccine rollout is not going to plan,” CNBC reported Tuesday. “[N]early a month into the program, its sluggish progress is causing frustration and concern among some German lawmakers and health professionals,” the broadcaster added.

After Merkel messed up the German vaccine program, she wants the Joe Biden administration to cover the shortfall, news reports say.

“The companies as well as the [German] federal government are keen to enter into talks with the new U.S. administration in order to reach adjustments,” the German health ministry said in a statement reported Tuesday.

Some of our readers may recall how last year the mainstream media lauded Merkel’s masterly handling of the Chinese pandemic while mocking and ridiculing President Donald Trump’s approach.

“A German Exception? Why the Country’s Coronavirus Death Rate Is Low,” The New York Times wrote praising Merkel in July 2020.

“How Germany got coronavirus right,” was the verdict of the London’s Financial Times around the same time. “From extensive testing to early track and trace, Germany is a model for tackling the disease,” the business daily added. 

Since last November, the picture has changed drastically. Germany has seen some large protests against the government measures, with thousands of people taking to streets in Berlin and other German cities. Even the once-loyal German media is turning on Merkel.

According to the newspaper Die Welt on Tuesday, Merkel called up Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to complain about the growing criticism of her handling of the Chinese pandemic by the German public and the media. 

“I had a lovely conversation with Angela Merkel yesterday morning, in which she sort of complained to me that every day she gets it from the German media that they are not doing as well as Canada is,” Trudeau told Canadian reporters on Tuesday. 

 

 
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