BERLIN (AP) – Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday that new coronavirus infections in Germany were once again increasing at an alarming rate. She called on reluctant citizens to get vaccinated and urged more enthusiastic compatriots about jabs to help persuade others.
Germany’s infection rate remains very low compared to some other European countries. But it has steadily increased since reaching 4.9 new weekly cases per 100,000 population on July 6. The rise is fueled by the more contagious delta variant, which is now dominant. As of Thursday, the infection rate stood at 12.2.
The numbers are rising with “worrying momentum,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin. “We have exponential growth.
She called on the Germans to stick to the rules of distancing and wearing masks, but said “we all know the key to overcoming the pandemic, the only way, is vaccination.”
This, she said, would allow the country to cope with a higher number of cases in the “impending fourth wave” of infections without overwhelming the health system.
Just over 60% of the German population had received a first dose of the vaccine on Thursday, while 48% were fully vaccinated. But the pace of vaccination has slowed in recent weeks even as new cases increase.
“We all want to get back to normalcy,” Merkel said. “But we will not find this normality alone, only as a community. And for that, we need a lot more vaccine protection. “
Each stroke is a “small step” towards getting everyone back to normal life and helping to protect loved ones, she said, adding: “My request to all those who are already convinced about vaccination is , please try to help convince others. “
The German government and many of its counterparts in the European Union of 27 came under heavy criticism in the early months of this year, when the EU’s vaccination campaign got off to a slower start than those in the UK, states -United and Israel. He has since made much of the difference.
But Merkel made it clear on Thursday that she considered the European approach justified, saying it was “quite right” to order vaccines through the EU rather than Germany alone, and to allow large exports. European vaccines to the rest of the world.
“It sets us apart and we can be proud of it,” she said. “And if we see that because of that we’re maybe a month or two later than many other countries that haven’t given anything at all, then I think that was all very good.”
“Now we are at a point where we need to advocate for people to get vaccinated so that we can truly overcome the pandemic,” she said.
Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine