German region leaders demand tighter paper lockdown

BERLIN, March 31 (Reuters) – Premiers of two southern German states severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic have urged leaders across the rest of the country to reintroduce stricter lockdown measures in an attempt to contain a third wave infections, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Markus Soeder, Bavarian Prime Minister and possible Conservative candidate to succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Winfried Kretschmann, head of Baden-W├╝rttemberg, wrote in a joint letter that the situation was “more serious than many think”.

“That is why we must take our responsibility now and stop discussing it,” they wrote in a letter reported by the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

Bavaria and Baden-W├╝rttemberg are among the German states that have seen the highest number of deaths in the pandemic, with 13,239 and 8,684 respectively.

The number of new coronavirus cases in Germany as a whole jumped by 17,051 on Wednesday, bringing the total to 2.8 million with a death toll of 76,342.

However, the seven-day coronavirus infection incidence rate fell for the first time in three weeks, to 132.3 per 100,000 people from 135.2 on Tuesday.

Merkel on Sunday urged German states to step up efforts to tackle the rapid rise in coronavirus infections and raised the possibility of introducing curfews.

Merkel is unhappy that some states are not ending a gradual easing of restrictions, even though the number of infections per 100,000 is well over 100 – the level she and regional leaders agreed in early March should trigger a new lock.

The city-state of Hamburg has decided to introduce a nighttime curfew from Friday.

Merkel said that if states do not start implementing measures with the appropriate seriousness in “the very foreseeable future,” she should consider what measures could be taken nationally. (Reporting by Madeline Chambers and Emma Thomasson; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

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