Posted by News Express | 12 March 2020 | 570 times
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that up to 60% – 70% of the country’s population could contract the coronavirus.
She made this disclosure at a news conference on Wednesday alongside Health Minister Jens Spahn.
She vowed to do everything it takes to tame the coronavirus crisis, signalling she is even ready to suspend the cherished dogma of keeping Germany’s budget balanced.
“It is an extraordinary situation, we will do what’s necessary and luckily Germany is relatively robust… we will do what we can to get through this situation well, and we will see at the end of that where our budget stands,” she said, stressing that ending the virus crisis “comes first”.
Maintaining a balanced or “black zero” budget has been a key selling point of Merkel‘s government, which believes that it would be irresponsible for the fast aging nation to incur more debt that would ultimately be left to a shrinking workforce to pay off.
But with the coronavirus outbreak forcing some countries to shut borders, companies to keep workforces home and foreign orders to collapse, calls have grown for Merkel‘s government to help prop up Germany’s economy.
“An economy like Germany’s, which is extremely export-dependent, is of course harder hit by global challenges” than one that is very concentrated on domestic demand, Merkel acknowledged, saying the government will announce liquidity help for firms this week.
The leader of Europe’s biggest economy said she was also prepared to look the other way if severely hit EU nations such as Italy were to flout the EU’s rules on limiting budget deficits as it fights the virus.
Her remarks came as Italy entered its second day of a national lockdown.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced the closure of schools, gyms, museums, nightclubs and other venues across the country, which on Wednesday passed 10,000 confirmed infections.
Stressing why it was important to do whatever it takes to battle the virus, Merkel quoted experts saying that “60-70 percent of the population will be infected if the situation” continues without a vaccine in sight. (AFP via Channels)
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