Germany won't relax coronavirus restrictions before April 20

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Berlin,  Mar. 28(BNA): The head of the German chancellor's office said that measures to restrict the spread of coronavirus in the country won't be lifted before April 20. 


"We are not talking about any easing until April 20. Until then all measures will remain in place," Helge Braun told the Tagesspiegel newspaper in an interview published Friday.


Older people would have to stick to restrictions on movement and interpersonal contact for much longer than younger people, reported dpa international.


"All models have one thing in common, no matter what we decide: that the elderly and immunocompromised people in our society must be effectively protected against infection until a vaccine is available," Braun said.


Braun said he wants to follow a similar approach to how South Korea is tackling the pandemic, using digital tracking to alert people if they have had contact with infected persons.


He noted Germany has already imposed the same restrictions on contact and has high rates of testing for the virus. 

Chancellor Angela Merkel also underlined the importance of staying at home and asked people to be patient.


"Nobody can say today with a clear conscience that they know how long this difficult time will last. There is still no reason to relax the rules," she said in her weekly podcast released on Saturday.


Merkel said she understood that people were missing contact and closeness and that she shares these feeling.

Despite initial tests showing she has not been infected, Merkel remains in home isolation out of an abundance of caution after being given a vaccine by a doctor who later tested positive.


In her podcast, the chancellor acknowledged how difficult it is to combine work and home life. And she said she was grateful to those who were following social distancing regulations, saying, "Thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart."


She noted that the number of new infections doubled roughly every five and a half days, and called on the nation to try to slow this rate to every ten days, to avoid overtaxing the health care system. "Anyone following this advice can save lives," she said. 


On Saturday morning, Germany had more than 48,800 coronavirus infections, according to dpa's calculations, based on numbers from the federal states. So far, 316 people have died in Germany. Two more Germans died of the disease abroad while travelling in Egypt.


In Germany, North Rhine Westphalia has the most infections, with more than 12,000 cases and 88 deaths, followed by Bavaria, with 10,180 cases and 60 deaths, and Baden Wuerttemberg, with 9,729 cases and 101 deaths.