Berlin, 18 March 2020 (dpa/MIA) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel is to inform the nation about the country’s coronavirus response in a pre-recorded speech to be aired at 8:15 pm (19:15 GMT) by the ZDF public broadcaster, government sources say.
On Wednesday, Germany’s top disease control official said the country could be dealing with 10 million coronavirus infections in the coming months if its citizens do not adhere to measures aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.
“We have an exponential development in the epidemic,” Lothar Wieler, president of the Robert Koch Institute, said in Berlin.
He appealed to Germany’s some 80 million people to limit contact with others.
While Germany has not yet ordered the lockdown measures seen in Italy and France, the government earlier this week issued a raft of orders aimed at drastically scaling back public life.
This included the closure of bars, sports clubs, and leisure facilities, while religious gatherings are banned.
Almost all schools have been closed.
The German government has issued a global travel warning and strict controls are in place at the country’s borders with Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, and Denmark, although commuters and vehicles carrying goods are still allowed through.
The Robert Koch Institute, a government agency, said on Wednesday that almost 8,200 cases of infection have now been confirmed, up by over 1,000 compared to the previous day. In Europe, tallies put Germany behind only Italy and Spain in the number of total infections.
On Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel chaired a cabinet meeting to discuss the country’s response to the pandemic.
Government sources said ministers discussed efforts to bring tens of thousands of German tourists back home and the transportation of goods across borders, among other issues.
The meeting had to be moved to a larger venue to allow for the recommended social distancing between those taking part.
Merkel is to update the nation in a speech to be aired at 8:15 pm (1915 GMT) by the ZDF public broadcaster, government sources say.