German and French leaders call for vigilance on the variant of the virus – .

German and French leaders call for vigilance on the variant of the virus – .

BERLIN – German and French leaders called for vigilance on Friday to prevent the spread of a variant of the coronavirus that this week prompted Britain to delay the planned easing of pandemic restrictions in England.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said that while Germany currently has a very low number of new COVID-19 infections, the “aggressive” delta variant could lead to an increase in new cases.

“We cannot pretend the crown is over,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin.

“Even though there is a feeling on such a hot summer evening that it’s all over, you can see from the Lisbon example that things can change quickly,” she said. “That’s why I think we have to be careful, so that we have a summer with a lot of freedoms but not yet all the freedoms. “

Portuguese authorities on Thursday banned travel inside or outside the capital region over the coming weekends in response to a spike in cases of the delta variant. Earlier this week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson pushed back the date for lifting restrictions on social contact by four weeks as the government reported thousands of newly confirmed cases, mostly with the delta variant.

Asked about travel related to the Euro2020 football tournament, Merkel said it was good to see thousands of fans again during the recent Germany-France match in Munich.

“But when I see completely full stadiums in other European countries, then I’m a little skeptical as to whether this is the right answer to the current situation,” she said – a reference to Hungary , where the authorities allowed the matches without limiting the number of spectators.

Merkel met ahead of a working dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron, the first time she has hosted a foreign leader in Germany since last year.

Macron said it was important to be vigilant over the new variant and that the European Union would discuss at an upcoming summit how to better harmonize travel restrictions during the pandemic – something the bloc has had struggling to do more than a year after the start of the epidemic.

EU countries have administered at least one dose of the vaccine to around half of their populations, while more than a third have received both injections. Britain, which left the block last year, has a higher vaccination rate.

Besides the pandemic, next week’s EU summit will also address foreign policy issues such as the bloc’s relations with Russia and Turkey, and the future of its common defense and security policy.

Macron praised US President Joe Biden’s commitment to NATO.

“I think we have succeeded in establishing the idea that European defense and the strategic autonomy of the EU is not an alternative to the transatlantic organization, but a solid component of it,” Macron told About recent meetings with Biden at the Group of Seven and NATO. .

Merkel agreed. “We can all be happy that (Biden) has once again created a climate of cooperation, in which of course everyone has their part to play,” she said.

“But I see an absolute need – and this is something I think the United States expects – that we act consistently, that we say what areas of work we can undertake and what contribution we can make. “


Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report.


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