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Merkel: Up to 70% of Germans could get coronavirus

Up to 70% of Germany’s population – some 58 million people – could become infected with the coronavirus, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said.

“The virus is in Europe, it is there, and we must understand that,” Merkel said at a press conference on Wednesday to discuss the country’s response to the Coronavirus – COVID-19 outbreak.

Ms Merkel said about 60% to 70% of people in Germany are likely to be infected because coronavirus is new, there is no vaccine or treatment, and the population has no immunity.

She said it was important to focus on slowing the spread of coronavirus because of lack of known cure.

Ms Merkel’s announcement that up to 70% of people in Germany could become infected with the coronavirus didn’t please Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis who accused her of spreading panic.

“I don’t want to comment on the situation in Germany, although I believe such statements rather cause panic. In any case, we have adopted strong measures for such worst-case scenarios to be out of the question,” Babis was quoted by Czech news agency CTK as saying.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn renewed the call to avoid major events, soccer games or club visits. Facemasks and disinfection spray are not necessary for people to avoid being infected, Mr Spahn said, adding that intensive hand-washing with soap was enough to stop infections.

So far there are 1,600 confirmed cases in Germany and three people have died in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Confirmation that Germany should prepare for more cases of infection from coronavirus and deaths has also arrived from Lothar Wieler, the head of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the country’s public health body. “Of course, more people will die here, too,” he told reporters.