Merkel says German coronavirus infections could hit 19,200 a day: source

BERLIN (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel told leaders of her Christian Democrats (CDU) on Monday that coronavirus infection rate could hit 19,200 per day in Germany if the current trend continues but stressed that the economy must be kept running, a party source said.

FILE PHOTO: A member of the medical staff walks past a sign on a door to an intensive care unit at the St.-Antonius-Hospital Eschweiler, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Eschweiler, Germany, September 25, 2020. The sign reads "Keep two meters distance". REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen

Infections have been rising in Germany for weeks. Data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany rose by 1,192 on Monday. The case load has leapt by more than 2,000 on some recent days.

“If the trend continues as it is now, we’ll have 19,200 infections a day. That’s like in other countries,” Merkel told a videoconference of the CDU leadership, Bild newspaper said.

A person with knowledge of the conference confirmed this to Reuters, adding that the chancellor had based the number on projections and was referring to the period up to Christmas.

“We must quickly contain the infections and intervene,” Merkel said, according to the party source. “We must set priorities, namely keeping the economy running and keeping schools and nurseries open. Soccer is secondary to that for now.”

Spectators are allowed to attend Bundesliga soccer matches if infection quotas are not too high locally, with stadiums allowed to be up to 20% filled.

Bild said Merkel had deemed the infection numbers in Europe as worrying and declared Germany needed to do everything it could to avoid the numbers rising exponentially again.

It said she considered parties, along with visits to restaurants and religious events, problematic.

A government spokesman said these were internal discussions and he could not confirm the comments.

Merkel is due to hold a video conference with the premiers of German states on Tuesday to discuss how to proceed with the coronavirus crisis.

Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Additional reporting by Alexander Huebner in Munich; Writing by Michelle Adair; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Nick Macfie