Merkel calls on Germans to use Covid-19 app, as coronavirus cases rise

All Germany residents should take advantage of a coronavirus app designed to recognize and break up infection chains, Chancellor Angela Merkel urged in her weekly video message on Saturday.  "The more people who participate, the greater its usefulness," Merkel believes.

The Corona Warn app was released this week after months of preparation and design, dpa recalls. It works by storing information about the users' movements on the phone, and also keeps track whenever it comes into the proximity of another phone carrying the app. However, due to high data volumes, there are questions about how useful it can be, since older phones might have trouble coping. There is also resistance from privacy advocates against a system that tracks people's movement. The app's use is voluntary. Germany has a strongly ingrained tradition of personal privacy due to its experiences with state spying on its citizens during the Nazi era and by the government of the former East Germany.

Others also ask why the app only came out in June, after the worst uptick in infection rates seemed to have past, although several groups of new and rapidly spreading infections in the last week have also shown that the country is not yet finished with the virus.

Health authorities were working to bring one of the worst situations under control in western Germany on Saturday, with an additional 40 members of the German army sent to the community of Rheda-Widenbueck, where a fresh outbreak is threatening to force a new regional shutdown.

They join 25 soldiers already in the region. Several members of the new team are fluent in Eastern European languages, since many of the infected at the Toennies slaughterhouse are Bulgarian and Romanian nationals. Military officials say more soldiers might be sent in if necessary to support the testing operation. Health workers have verified more than 800 coronavirus infections in a workforce of 1,450, which has prompted all workers to be put in some form of quarantine.

Alongside the virus concerns, the outbreak has sparked worries about food safety at Germany's slaughterhouses, which have been the source of a steady stream of coronavirus hotspots in the last few weeks. Health experts suspect the disease might spread more readily in the working conditions common in such facilities. About 60 people gathered outside the Toennies factory on Saturday to protest against the consumption of meat and against the unsafe conditions they say workers are forced into.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported on Saturday that Germany had seen 601 new infections in the last 24 hours and that the rate of infection has ticked back up to a point where each infected person was infecting one other. Still, Germany has proportionately fewer deaths than other countries. Of the overall number of infected, about 174,400 have fought off the virus, while 8,883 have died.

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