Despite positive progress, Germany could be displaying the first signs of the pandemic worsening again, according to new figures published Monday evening by German authorities.
The country's infection rate is back to 1.0, the Robert Koch Institute reported. The infection rate is how many new people get infected by someone who has the virus. In mid-April, that number had dropped to 0.7 in Germany. The German government and virologists have so far always stressed the importance of having a lower rate.
Besides the infection rate, Germany's death rate is also increasing again. It is currently at 3.8%, according to the Robert Koch Institute, which is still lower than in Germany's neighbouring countries.
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If this upward trend were to be confirmed, it could complicate authorities' efforts to bring about a gradual return to normality, at a time when public impatience is growing.
The federal government and the country's regions, which have the final say on health matters, will discuss the next steps of deconfinement on Thursday, ahead of decisions expected on 6 May.
Merkel has repeatedly voiced concern over the desire by the public and many politicians to rush ahead with the end of the lockdown. Even with an infection rate of 1.1, "we could reach the limits of our health system in terms of intensive care beds by October," she warned recently. A rate of 1.2 would see the country reach the limits of its healthcare system by July, and with a 1.3 infection rate, it could be as early as June, according to Merkel.
On 20 April, Germany had begun to gradually ease its restrictive measures, including the reopening of some shops and secondary schools.
In Belgium, where the government is preparing the lift the lockdown in three phases, there were 46,687 cases and 7,207 deaths as of Monday.
The Brussels Times