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Angela Merkel warns of coronavirus mutations and defends lockdown extension

DW, 11 Feb 2021
Angela Merkel has called for Germans to be "extremely cautious" and warned of the "dangers" of variants. Lawmakers are hoping to avoid the the heath system being overrun by new COVID-19 mutations.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke in the Bundestag on Thursday to defend the extension of the nationwide lockdown until March 7. The German government and state leaders agreed to maintain lockdown measures beyond February 14, but with the option of "gradually" opening schools and daycare centers as well as hairdressers earlier.

"We have to be extremely cautious that we don't get into this exponential growth spiral again," Merkel told lawmakers. She also warned that the new mutations, which are already present in Germany, "may destroy any success" already achieved by the monthslong lockdown. The chancellor also defended the use of infection rates to determine when it is safe to ease the lockdown measures. "I really support the fact that when it comes to further openings and reopenings we've decided on the basis of these new mutations, not to give dates, but to give infection rates," she said.

As pointed out in Merkel's speech, many people have been disappointed by the slow roll out of vaccines across the country. According to the RKI, some 2.4 million people have received their first vaccine jab — equivalent to 2.9% of the population — while 1.1 million have been given both doses — 1.3% of the population.

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