German Chancellor Angela Merkel cautioned on Saturday that the coronavirus pandemic is far from over, as regional outbreaks gave rise to fears of a second wave.
Two of the largest US states reversed course and reinstated some coronavirus restrictions amid a surge in new infections.
India reported more than 18,000 new cases, pushing its cumulative total over the half-million mark, the fourth highest globally behind the US, Brazil and Russia. Elsewhere, Egypt and Britain said they would ease virus controls, while China and South Korea battled smaller outbreaks in their capitals.
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Merkel said in her weekly video podcast that getting Europe’s economy back on track is her primary goal as Germany takes over the rotating European Union presidency next week, but stressed that everyone shared a “joint responsibility” in following social distancing, mask and hygiene rules as lockdown rules are relaxed.
German authorities renewed a lockdown in a western region of about 500,000 people last week after about 1,300 slaughterhouse workers tested positive for COVID-19, in an attempt to prevent the outbreak from spreading across the area.
Germany has recorded nearly 195,000 coronavirus infections and only around 9,000 deaths, with more than 177,000 recoveries, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.
“The risk posed by the virus is still serious,” Merkel said. “It’s easy to forget because Germany has gotten through the crisis well so far, but that doesn’t mean we are protected, that the risk has been averted; that is not the case, as is demonstrated by these regional outbreaks.”
Fans of Germany’s Schalke soccer club planned to demonstrate later in the day at the stadium against chairman Clemens Toennies, one of whose companies owns the slaughterhouse where the outbreak began. Workplace and living conditions for migrant workers employed at the facility have come into focus after the outbreak.
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