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Merkel at Bundestag: ‘Coronavirus Mutations Could Destroy Success’

At the Berlin Bundestag, Angela Merkel explained and defended the prolongation of the lockdown and her entire Corona policy. She said it was important to make sure the third Corona wave did not have the room to spread.

Fighting the Corona pandemic was the biggest part of her work, Angela Merkel said at the Bundestag this morning. The same applied to the entire government, the state governments and state parliaments. Leading “our country into better times” was the most important task. Everyone was affected, the Chancellor stated.

Germany ‘Learned How Virus Works’

In the past year, the country had “learned how the virus works, and what works against it”. But learning did not mean that everything was done right from the start. As an example for mistakes that had been made Mrs. Merkel mentioned the drama about masks. Early on in the pandemic, they were recommended, but today they are mandatory.

She also said the country could not thank doctors and nurses often enough for all the work and the good job they had done. An overburdening of Germany’s health system had been avoided. “When we look at the rest of the world, we see this is not self-evident”, the German head of government said.

Restrictions Enabled ‘Trend Reversal’

Every single day, she knew what the anti-Corona measures meant for each citizen, Angela Merkel assured the parliament. “All measures were put in place according to the rules of our democracy”, she stated. With this sentence, she replied to critics who say the Bundestag was being bypassed. She also said the measures would not remain even a day longer than necessary.

The Chancellor looked back at the past year when she said the first Corona wave had hit Germany less hard than other countries. Then, in summer, “we were not cautious or fast enough”, she conceded. But now, during the second wave, the exponential growth of infection numbers had been stopped. Very recently, in January, they had risen far too quickly. Today’s trend reversal had been achieved because of the restrictions.

‘Mourning is Always Present’

The number of Corona-related deaths seemed to be decreasing now, Chancellor Merkel said. People had lost mothers and fathers, children, other relatives and friends. The mourning of those who had been lost was always present.

She mentioned the vaccination issue as well. In record time, the vaccines had been developed, Angela Merkel told the Bundestag. In the European Union, there had not been emergency approvals, but proper ones. And there was solidarity with smaller or economically weaker countries in this regard. None of them had to stand in line for vaccine. At the same time she said she understood the frustration about the slow beginning of the vaccination campaign in Germany.

‘Unfortunate Developments’ Possible

Then Mrs. Merkel talked about the “big and real” danger, namely the recently discovered Coronavirus mutants. She said her government did not doubts the statements experts had made on the matter. The new virus variants were more aggressive and they spread more easily. Of course, the development of mutations had not come completely unexpected. The Chancellor also warned there could be more “unfortunate developments”.

In Germany, the Corona mutations were already present. In late January, they had been identified in 5.7 percent of all new infections. “Experts tell me it was only a question of time until they dominate the pandemic”, Merkel said. The mutations could “destroy the success” Germany had had in the fight against the pandemic. That was one reason why a prolongation of the lockdown until March 7th, 2021, had been announced.

Measures ‘Necessary and Reasonable’

The Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany stated her goal was not to give room to the new wave. “We have to be careful”, she said, and explained that a back and forth regarding lockdowns — opening shops and closing them again shortly after — would not be helpful. “Everyone knows how people are suffering”, but the anti-Corona measures were necessary and reasonable.

“This winter is hard”, Merkel conceded. “But we have a clear goal.” It had been necessary to prolong the lockdown until March 7th. “It is worth it. We have to be persistent and patient. Together, we can manage to defeat the pandemic and lead our country into better times.”

Extremists Criticize Merkel

Right after her speech at the Bundestag, the Chancellor was slammed by the extremist right-wing party ‘AfD’. Its floor leader Alice Weidel said the latest decisions on the lockdown had been taken by a “clique”, while the parliament was only there to “discuss things a little” afterwards. Weidel accused Merkel of “an embarrassing staging” and “a display of the arrogance of power”. The government’s approach was unconstitutional. Alice Weidel said it was “not the virus that strips an entire generation of its educational opportunities”, but Merkel’s “wrong policies”. Her method was to lock people up.

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