German Health Minister: ‘Emergency Brake’ To Be Applied Saturday

Germany’s health minister said Friday the nation’s coronavirus vaccination program is picking up momentum just as “emergency brake” COVID-19 restrictions go into effect across the country to slow the spread of the virus.
 
The German parliament this week gave approval to measures granting emergency powers the Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to implement nationwide shutdowns, including 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfews and the closing of schools in an effort to stop a third wave of COVID-19 that has been sweeping the country.
 
At a news briefing in Berlin, Health Minister Jens Spahn said the restrictions begin Saturday, focusing on regions of Germany where infection rates are above 100 cases per 100,000 people. The current national infection rate is at 161 per 100,000 people.
 
Spahn told reporters that, as of Thursday, 606,000 people were vaccinated. He said just under 22% — more than one in five Germans — have been vaccinated. He said, “It will be one in four by the beginning of May. And for what we can expect at this moment it will be at least one in three in the course of May.”
 
Speaking at the same news briefing, Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases Vice President Lars Schaade said the number of new coronavirus cases did not appear to be rising as rapidly but warned that case numbers remained too high.
 
He said new infections are rising in particular among those between the ages of 30 and 59 and that the virus was “not harmless,” even for younger and healthier people.

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