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The number of coronavirus cases is on the rise in Germany again just days after the country began to loosen additional blocking measures, according to a report by the country’s public health agency on Saturday.
German police, meanwhile, said more than 130 people were arrested when protests turned violent in Berlin and other cities on Saturday. Thousands have taken to the streets across the country to demand that the closure, which has been in place since mid-March, be lifted even more quickly.
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the German federal agency for disease control and prevention, said Saturday in its daily bulletin that the country’s reproductive rate (R), which measures the number of people infected with each patient confirmed by COVID-19, rose to 1.1, Reuters reported. Once the number exceeds 1, it means that the number of cases nationwide is increasing.
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In its report on Sunday, RKI recorded 667 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the national number of confirmed infections to 169,218. At least 26 new deaths were recorded, for a total of 7,395 deaths from coronavirus in the country.
Despite its large number of cases, Germany has kept the death toll much lower than in other European countries affected by the virus partly due to extensive and early detection tests, locking measures and its healthcare system well-funded and managed health care, according to Reuters.
After meetings with leaders of the 16 German states, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Wednesday that the country would begin to loosen its lockout restrictions, allowing stores to reopen and schoolchildren to gradually return to classrooms. The German football federation, the Bundesliga, was authorized to restart on May 16.
Merkel added that she would launch an “emergency brake” to force local authorities to reinstate the lockdown if infections exceeded a threshold of 50 per 100,000 people, the BBC reported.
Karl Lauterbach, a Social Democrat lawmaker and professor of epidemiology in Germany, went on Twitter on Saturday to lament that large crowds in his hometown of Cologne may be contributing to the recovery of infections in the country, Reuters reported. .
“You can expect the R rate to exceed 1 and we will return to exponential growth,” Lauterbach tweeted. “The flexibility measures were far too ill-prepared.”
More than 3,000 protesters – flouting social distancing measures – gathered peacefully in Munich on Saturday accusing government and health care professional of causing panic and prolonging the lockout to infringe on their rights, the channel reported. German Deutsche Welle.
At least 131 people were arrested after two separate protests in Berlin were dispersed by police after some protesters began to throw bottles at the officers, Euro News reported.
Police said another 23-year-old man was arrested in the western city of Dortmund after allegedly attacking a television crew. Protesters in Cologne are said to have encouraged those entering newly reopened stores to remove their face masks, authorities said.
Meanwhile, the German interior minister makes an exception for cross-border entry to allow children living outside Germany to enter the country for a Mother’s Day visit.
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The country’s pandemic restrictions currently prohibit entry into the country, except for “compelling reasons” such as work. This would have prevented families living across the border from going to Mother’s Day on Sunday.
Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, however, approved the border police’s decision to include subsidiary visits to Mother’s Day on the list. Like cross-border workers, they will also be exempt from the rule that requires people entering Germany to be quarantined for two weeks.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.