Germany's Covid-19 deaths surpass 50,000 amid fears of mutant strains

BERLIN (BLOOMBERG) – Germany’s coronavirus fatalities passed 50,000 on Thursday (Jan 21), underscoring the urgency facing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to slow the spread of the disease and guard against new mutations.

In Europe’s largest economy, 1,013 people have died since Wednesday morning, increasing the total number of deaths related to Covid-19 to 50,010, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Pandemic-related fatalities have doubled in the past month.

Dr Merkel will address Germany’s fight against the disease at a news conference on Thursday, just two days after struggling to reach common ground with state leaders.

The Chancellor pushed for tougher curbs, but some state leaders resisted, wary of voter dissatisfaction ahead of regional and national elections in the coming months.

While confirmed cases of the disease have declined in recent days, the contagion rate remains more than double a government target, and the authorities are concerned that fast-spreading strains could spark a surge like in Britain and Ireland.

Lockdown measures – including closing non-essential stores and restricting movement in hard-hit areas – on Tuesday were extended to Feb 14.

The authorities also agreed to make medical face masks obligatory in stores and on public transport, while companies will be required until March 15 to allow employees to work from home where possible.

On Tuesday, Dr Merkel warned that Germany could impose border controls unless European neighbours synchronise measures to contain mutations.

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