Merkel appeals to German families for patience in the face of longer lockdown

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has described the coronavirus crisis as a "huge effort" for families in the face of the weeks-long lockdown and appealed for patience, dpa reported. "We are not yet ready to reopen daycare centres and schools," she said in her weekly video podcast released on Saturday.

But Merkel noted that if the people continue to refrain from contact, keep distance, follow hygiene rules and wear masks, “the sooner it will be possible again."

Meanwhile, the federal and state health ministers were scheduled to discuss the progress of the vaccination campaign later on Saturday. The federal government has come under fire for the slow start to the Covid-19 vaccination.

According to data released by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for disease control on Saturday morning, there were 12,321 new coronavirus infections across Germany within the past day. A week ago the RKI had recorded 16,417 new infections. According to the RKI, the number of new infections reported within seven days per 100,000 inhabitants - the seven-day incidence rate - was 90.9 on Saturday morning; the federal government's target is 50.

Germany is currently in lockdown, with the closure of pubs and restaurants, many shops as well as schools and daycare centres until mid-February.

"We are doing everything we can to be the first to reopen daycare centres and schools in order to give children back a piece of their familiar everyday life and to relieve families," Merkel said in her podcast. At the same time, she warned against "a very real danger from highly contagious virus mutations."

The leader of Merkel's conservative bloc in the German parliament, Ralph Brinkhaus, said in an interview on Saturday that the lockdown in Germany would need to be extended beyond 14 February.

The Health Ministry announced on Twitter on Saturday that at least another 5m vaccine doses will be delivered to the 16 federal states - who have responsibility for health under the German system - by 22 February, according to manufacturers BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca. According to the ministry, more than 3.5m vaccine doses have been delivered and 2.2m people vaccinated in Germany since the vaccination campaign began five weeks ago.

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