Merkel warns Germans of a ‘difficult winter’ as virus surges

Chancellor Angela Merkel has told Germans to expect a “difficult winter” as the number of newly reported coronavirus cases in the country hit a new high

The long-time German leader said authorities had no choice but to drastically reduce social contacts as three-quarters of infections in Germany now can’t be traced be traced anymore.

“If we wait until the ICUs are full, then it will be too late,” she said.

Merkel said democratic debate about the virus restrictions was important, but blasted some critics who have claimed the German government is exaggerating the threat of the virus.

“Lies and disinformation, conspiracies and hatred damage not just the debate but also the battle against the virus,” she said. “It’s not just democratic debate that depends on our relationship to facts and information, human lives depend on it.”

Opposition leader Alexander Gauland of the far-right Alternative for Germany party responded to Merkel’s speech by accusing the government of “wartime propaganda” and likened the pandemic to motorized traffic, arguing that society accepts a certain number of car deaths too.

———

Follow AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak