German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on citizens to help ease the strain on nurses and doctors caring for the rising number of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) patients by respecting pandemic rules over Easter.
Germany’s disease control agency reported 24,300 newly confirmed cases in the past day, and 201 deaths. The head of the Robert Koch Institute has warned the country is seeing a third surge in infections fueled by more contagious virus variants that have come to dominate the outbreak in Germany.
Speaking in a video address, Merkel said this “needs to be a quiet Easter.”
Germany has recorded more than 2.8 million Covid-19 cases and 76,543 deaths since the start of the outbreak, fewer than most other large European countries.
But there’s been frustration about the slow pace of its vaccination program, with only about 11.6 percent of the population having received at least one shot.
The director of the World Health Organization’s Europe office also said immunization campaigns against Covid-19 across the continent are “unacceptably slow” and jeopardizing efforts to stop the pandemic.
In a statement on Thursday, Dr. Hans Kluge says vaccines “present our best way out of this pandemic” but noted that to date, only 10 percent of Europe’s population has received one dose and that only 4 percent have been fully protected with two doses.
“As long as coverage remains low, we need to apply the same public health and social measures as we have in the past, to compensate for delayed schedules,” Kluge said. He warned European government against having “a false sense of security” for having started their immunization campaigns and noted Europe remains the second-most affected region in terms of new cases and deaths. SOVEREIGNPH