Germany weighs new restrictions as coronavirus cases jump

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Berlin, Sept.24 (BNA): German authorities are facing pressure to bring back tougher restrictions to stem the pandemic as the number of new coronavirus cases in the nation jumped again on Thursday. 


For the fourth time in just over a month, more than 2,000 new infections have been recorded over a one-day period in Germany, according to data from the country's disease control institute, said a dpa international.


The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported 2,143 new cases over the last 24 hours. At the peak of the crisis in late March/early April, Germany was reporting more than 6,000 new cases a day.


Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to meet the premiers of Germany's 16 states next week to coordinate the nation's response to the rising numbers.


An initial round of restrictions introduced in March brought infection rates under control but plunged the economy into recession. States have gradually eased the restrictions in recent months, opting instead for widespread mask rules and tracking strategies.


But the worrying shift in the trend was underlined this week by coronavirus scares for two of Merkel's top ministers.


Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Economy Minister Peter Altmaier have placed themselves in home-quarantine after coming into contact with infected persons. The measures are precautionary and initial tests for both have come back negative.

Merkel herself was forced into quarantine in March after one of her doctors tested positive. 

Michael Mueller, who heads up the regional government in Berlin, warned on Thursday that authorities may have to consider a ban on alcohol as a part of possible new restrictions.


The capital has emerged as a key centre of concern following a rise in new infections, in part resulting from large groups gathering for parties.


Speaking on German public television, Mueller said he assumes "that we will indeed have to impose restrictions again, especially on parties held in public spaces."


The number of reported cases of infection in Berlin increased by 199 within one day - the highest value in weeks.


In comparison with other German states, Berlin also has the highest number of infected persons per 100,000 inhabitants recorded over the last seven days, according to RKI data.


The authorities in Germany's most-populous state, North Rhine Westphalia, are also weighing a new round of restrictions including demanding that people provide two weeks notice of any event.


The move follows a wedding in the city of Hamm, which left more than 100 people infected with the virus. This included more than 40 children.