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Merkel to meet with German mayors as virus numbers rise

BERLIN

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was meeting Friday with the mayors of the country’s largest cities as Germany’s coronavirus numbers continue to rise, primarily in metropolitan areas.

Merkel was to meet by video conference with 11 mayors in the early afternoon to discuss what should be done to slow the spread of the virus.

Germany has won wide plaudits for slowing the spread of the coronavirus when it first broke out but is grappling with what to do now that it seems to be picking up again.

Berlin’s mayor Michael Mueller told reporters Friday that large gatherings had to be avoided and people need to take precautions on public transport, among other things.

“We need to prevent a lockdown,” he said.

Germany’s disease control center, the Robert Koch Institute, reported 4,516 new cases of coronavirus overnight Friday, and many cities have now reached the critical warning level of 50 new infections per 100,000 residents.

Berlin’s figure was at 51 per 100,000 residents, while Bremen was at 53.9, and Cologne and Essen were close, with 49.8 and 48.4 per 100,000 respectively, according to the Robert Koch Institute.

Overall, German has counted 314,660 coronavirus cases, with 9,589 deaths, a toll one-fourth that of Britain and one-third that of Italy.

Health Minister Jens Spahn said Thursday he was “very concerned” and urged Germans to respect social distancing and hygiene measures to avoid reaching a point “where we lose control.”

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