Merkel warns of third virus wave as Germany weighs ending lockdown

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Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that Germany is in the midst of a third wave of coronavirus infections and that moves to reopen schools and businesses should be weighed with caution as the country debates how to exit its lockdown and relieve its ailing economy.

Ending restrictions on personal contact must be accompanied by more testing and vaccinations, Merkel told lawmakers of the Christian Democratic Union-led conservative bloc Tuesday in a video conference, according to a participant on the call. The chancellor warned that the virus’s U.K. variant is already spreading in Germany, threatening the success of the country’s containment efforts to date.

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Helge Braun, Merkel’s chief of staff, told lawmakers that the mutated virus could rapidly lead to a rise in new infections, with the so-called incidence rate — a key measure for confirmed daily cases — rising as high as 800. The average incidence rate in Germany is currently at 60, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute, and Merkel has set a rate of 50 as the minimum for lifting certain restrictions, with further curbs possibly eased at a rate below 35…

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