'Hardest phase of pandemic': Angela Merkel cautions after German virus deaths cross 40,000
The warning from Merkel came at a time when the European country crossed 40,000 deaths from the deadly virus after 465 new deaths were reported on Saturday
With the identification of cases of the new strains of coronavirus — from the UK and South Africa — Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned locals for the upcoming weeks, claiming they might be the "hardest" weeks till now.
The warning from Merkel came at a time when the European country crossed 40,000 deaths from the deadly virus after 465 new deaths were reported on Saturday, taking the death toll to 40,343.
During her weekly video message to the country, Merkel warned locals "these next winter weeks will be the hardest phase of the pandemic". She also warned locals that majority doctors and other healthcare workers are already working in their full capacity.
She also reported that the full impact of the increase in coronavirus cases and deaths during the Christmas and New Year holiday season has not yet been added in the statistics.
As of now, more than 5,000 COVID-19 patients are admitted in the Intensive Care Units (ICU) and the ICUs are filled to 8- per cent capacity, with a massive increase in demand. hospitals, in general too, are struggling to provide beds to coronavirus patients after a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Germany has recorded more than 1.9 million coronavirus cases, with an increase of almost 17,000 cases recorded on Saturday. Following the increase, the government ordered shut down of all non-essential shops, culture and leisure facilities till January 31.
The European country started a mass vaccination drive towards the end of December after the European Union (EU) approved emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against coronavirus. Till now, more than half a million people have been vaccinated. Germany will soon begin the usage of US firm Moderna's vaccine too.
Merkel, during the address, assured people that while the initial speed of the vaccination drive has been slow, it will soon pick up. "What's important is that we can say: we will have enough of the vaccine available for everyone in Germany," she said. "Month after month we will inoculate more people and eventually we will be able to offer the vaccine to anyone who wants it."