11 March 2020
Berlin: As many as 70 per cent of Germany's population, or some 58 million people, could catch coronavirus, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned on Wednesday as the country recorded its third death, reports said.
Addressing a press conference along with Health Minister Jens Spahn, she said that since the disease had no known cure yet, the focus is on slowing the spread of the virus.
"It's about winning time," Merkel said, the BBC reported.
Germany confirmed its third coronavirus-related death on Wednesday, in the affected district of Heinsberg in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
The first fatality was an 89-year-old woman who died in the town of Essen, the second a 78-year-old man with pre-existing health conditions who died in Heinsberg.
The country has so far reported 1,296 cases of the virus, according to figures released by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for disease control late on Tuesday. RKI President Lothar Wieler, who was also present at the press conference, said that they did not believe there was a significant number of undetected cases in the country.
In her first press meet on the outbreak, Merkel contended that border closures would not be enough to prevent the spread of the virus, but ruled out following Austria's lead in banning visitors from the continent's worst-hit Italy, which entered the second day of a national lockdown.
"This is a test for our solidarity, our common sense and care for each other. And I hope we pass the test," she said.
Meanwhile, Berlin city authorities on Wednesday banned all events with more than 1,000 participants until the end of the Easter holidays.