Merkel urged Germans to continue to cooperate with a nationwide shutdown aimed at halting the coronavirus pandemic, arguing that the large number of daily infections means that the measures must remain in place.
In a weekly podcast, the German chancellor thanked the nation for complying with a comprehensive shutdown of non-essential activities, as well as for following social distancing guidelines, but said that the country was still a long way from returning to normal.
"I must ask you to be patient. Unfortunately, the daily numbers of new infections still give us no reason to relax the rules," she said, without specifying when the shutdown might end.
"We're not even close to where we can see if the measures are working," Merkel said in her first public comments since entering precautionary quarantine on Sunday.
Her chief of staff, Helge Braun, told media on Saturday that the measures will not be eased before at least April 20.
Merkel, who is still in quarantine after coming into contact with a doctor infected with Covid-19, noted that the number of new cases in Germany has roughly doubled every 5.5 days. Although the number of new infections has slowed since the start of the outbreak, she stressed that the country's health system was still at risk of being dangerously overburdened.
Germany has registered 6,294 new cases, according to the latest figures published by the Robert Koch Institute, bringing the nationwide total to 48,582. The respiratory illness has killed 325 people in Germany since the pandemic began more than two months ago in Wuhan, China.
The country has shuttered schools, shops, restaurants and public places in an effort to stop the spread of the disease.
Germans support the actions of Merkel's government by a large majority of 89%, according to a survey for broadcaster ZDF published Friday. Three-quarters said public restrictions announced a week ago are right, while 20% said they weren't sufficient.
Merkel bolstered her position as Germany's most popular politician, and her Christian Democratic-led bloc gained seven points -- its biggest monthly increase in the poll's history -- to 33%, according to the March 23-26 survey of 1,473 people.
The number of confirmed cases in the country is among the highest in Europe, with only Italy and Spain reporting more. Germany has been seen as an anomaly, however, due to its surprisingly low death rate when compared to other nations.
About Article Author