BERLIN: Germany’s health minister on Monday said that although measures to contain the spread of coronavirus had started showing an effect, further efforts were needed to bring the virus permanently under control.
“The (infection) numbers seem to be decreasing, which is good, but we are still a long way from where we want to be,” Jens Spahn told broadcaster ARD.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and the 16 state premiers will discuss next steps on Tuesday.
The number of new coronavirus infections has been decreasing in recent days and the occupancy of beds in intensive care units by COVID-19 patients has recently declined by 10-15%, according to Spahn.
However, the state premiers are concerned about new variants of the coronavirus that appear to be more contagious.
Finance Minister Olaf Scholz told public broadcaster RBB on Monday he could imagine extending the current lockdown by two weeks until mid-February.
Stricter requirements for companies to allow employees to work from home, a compulsory wearing of FFP2 masks in certain areas, restrictions on public transport and an introduction of curfews are being debated.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 7,141 to 2,040,659, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Monday. That was more than 5,000 less cases then the week before.
The reported death toll rose by 214 to 46,633, according to the tally.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas fuelled discussions regarding privileges for people who had been vaccinated against COVID-19 on Sunday by saying those should be allowed to go to restaurants and cinemas earlier.
His comments contrasted with other German ministers, who have opposed such special rights, fearing it could lead to inequalities in society at a time when not everyone has the opportunity to get inoculated.
Maas’s proposal were “out of the question” as long as it is not proven that a vaccination stopped people from transmitting the virus too, a justice ministry spokesman said on Sunday.
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