Merkel made the remark during her address at the parliamentary group meeting of the Christian Democratic Union party. German-language newspaper Bild, which covered the event, said the room “fell silent” when Merkel uttered the grave prognosis.
“60 to 70 percent of people in Germany will become infected with the coronavirus. We are facing a challenge that we have never had before. It really depends on us,” Merkel said.
Merkel, in her speech, noted that the priority was to slow the spread of the disease, “so all the measures we are taking are of the greatest significance because they are giving us time - it does matter what we do, it is not in vain.”
“Our solidarity, our sensibility, our warmth for each other is already being put to the test, and I hope that we will pass this test,” she added.
Merkel added that Germany would do what was needed in order to counter the effects of the coronavirus and that all of its countermeasures would happen in agreement with European partners.
“The message should be: we will do what is necessary as a country, and that is also together with Europe,” Merkel said.
Merkel’s announcement came days after Italy announced it was logging an average of 1,000 coronavirus cases per day. Health Minister Jens Spahn, who was also at the meeting, confirmed the Chancellor’s analysis, adding that 80 percent of all infected people would get through the epidemic with almost no symptoms. According to Spahn, 28,000 beds are available to accommodate the infected, stressing that it is now a matter of keeping the health system and social life stable.
All of Germany’s 16 states now have confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, which originated from Wuhan in China. As of press time, according to data taken from Johns Hopkins University and the Robert Koch Institute, the total number of confirmed infections in Germany is now at 1,853, with the number of deaths logged at three.
Merkel, during the meeting, told the lawmakers present that more events and large gatherings -- including parliamentary proceedings -- could be canceled or postponed, depending on the severity of the outbreak.
A day following Merkel’s impassioned address at Parliament, members of a Social Democrat Party (SPD) working group have been told to work from home after it was revealed that a guest who attended a session earlier this month had tested positive for the potentially deadly flu-like virus.
According to a story first reported by Business Insider Deutschland, the Working Group on Law held a closed conference on March 2, with about 20 participants present. An external guest, who turned out to be infected with SARS-CoV-2, was also present at the event.
As per the report published on Business Insider, while none of the delegates or parliamentary group members have shown symptoms, the working group has announced the cancellation of all its appointments and sent delegates to work from home for at least this week. (Related: Pope Francis urges priests to “Visit, comfort coronavirus sufferers”… is he trying to SPREAD the epidemic?)
“Yes, there is the suspicion that there is a case in the Bundestag,” SPD MP Karl Lauterbach said, adding that all SPD deputies who attended the meeting had left the Parliament.