Merkel backs tougher COVID lockdown in Germany


FILE PHOTO: The bronze statue of the two German literature figures Friedrich Schiller and Johann Wolfgang von Goeth is pictured in front of the Deutsches Nationaltheater (German National Theatre) during the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Weimar, Germany, March 29, 2021. REUTERS/Karina Hessland

BERLIN (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel supports demands for a short, tough lockdown in Germany to curb the spread of the coronavirus as infection rates are too high, a German government spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

Germany is struggling to tackle a third wave of the pandemic and several regional leaders have called for a short, sharp lockdown while the country tries to vaccinate more people.

"Every call for a short, uniform lockdown is right," deputy government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer told reporters, adding Germany was seeing a growing number of intensive care patients.

"We need a stable incidence below 100," she said, referring to the number of cases over seven days per 100,000 inhabitants. It is currently 110.1, according to the Robert Koch Institute.

She also said that the government was looking at whether nationwide, rather than regional, measures were needed.

"The range of regulations does not help acceptance," said Demmer. While some states have imposed night-time curfews over Easter, others are experimenting with some easing of restrictions.

The majority of Germany's 16 federal state premiers was against bringing forward talks scheduled for April 12 on what action to take.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany rose by 9,677 on Wednesday to more than 2.9 million, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases said. It has warned that the numbers may not yet show the full picture as not all cases were registered over Easter. Some 77,401 people have died.

(Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing Madeline Chambers; Editing by Maria Sheahan, Kirsti Knolle)

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