German Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly said that Berlin is open to scrapping the self-imposed zero-deficit rule to fight against the novel coronavirus outbreak. Merkel has not ruled out the suspension of the zero-deficit rule targeted at fiscal prudence and said that the administration will prioritise the virus crisis.
Speaking at a news conference on March 11, Merkel said that Germany is focussed on slowing the spread of the virus since there is no known cure of the deadly infection. The German Chancellor warned that up to 70 per cent of the country’s population is vulnerable to the novel coronavirus.
Merkel’s prediction comes at a time when Germany has reported three deaths due to COVID-19 and more than 1,600 people have contracted the virus. The third fatality was reported from the district of Heinsberg in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Europe is witnessing a dramatic rise in the coronavirus cases with Italy being the worst affected country after China.
Italy has confirmed over 10,000 coronavirus cases with 631 deaths, more than the combined death toll of Iran, South Korea, Spain, France, Germany and the United States. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte signed a decree putting most of northern Italy under lockdown. Museums, theatres, cinemas, and other entertainment venues have also been closed all over the nation due to the decree signed by Conte on March 8.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted that the threat of pandemic has become “very real”. During the media briefing on March 9, Ghebreyesus said that it is certainly troubling that so many people and countries have been affected. But added that it would be the first pandemic in history that could be controlled.
“The bottom line is: we are not at the mercy of this virus,” said the WHO Director-General.
Though the cases in China continue to grow, there has been a considerable decline in the rate. According to the latest report, 22 new deaths in China due to coronavirus infections have been confirmed, taking the total death toll because of the deadly virus to 3,158. “Of the 80,000 reported cases in China, more than 70% have recovered and been discharged,” said Ghebreyesus.
(With inputs from agencies)