German Chancellor Angela Merkel is citing expert estimates that up to 70% of the population could be infected by the new coronavirus as she insists on the necessity of measures to slow its spread.
Germany had confirmed some 1,300 infections as of Wednesday, with two deaths. The government has recommended the cancellation of all events with more than 1,000 people, among other things.
Merkel noted at a news conference in Berlin: “You have to understand that if the virus is there, and the population has no immunity yet to this virus, there are no vaccines and no therapy so far, a high percentage – experts say 60 to 70% ― of the population will be infected.”
She said the priority is to slow the spread of the disease “so all the measures we are taking are of the greatest significance because they are giving us time – it does matter what we do, it is not in vain.”
Merkel has made clear that Germany doesn’t intend to close its borders in the light of Europe’s coronavirus epidemic, arguing that it makes more sense for people arriving from badly hit regions to quarantine themselves at home.
Merkel said at a rare, hastily convened news conference Wednesday in Berlin that it’s important for European leaders to discuss “what are good and effective measures and what aren’t.”
She said “we in Germany, in any case, are of the opinion that border closures are not an appropriate response to the challenge.”
Germany isn’t a direct neighbor of Italy, the epicenter of Europe’s outbreak. Austria and Slovenia to Italy’s north and Malta to the south have largely closed their borders with Italy.