Merkel calls coronavirus ‘biggest challenge since WWII’

first_imgGermany is facing its biggest challenge “since the Second World War” in the fight against the coronavirus, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday, in what observers called a “final warning” for citizens to heed sweeping confinement measures.In a dramatic television appeal, Merkel said everyone played a part in slowing down a pandemic that has raced across the globe and triggered unprecedented peace-time lockdowns.”The situation is serious. Take it seriously. Not since German reunification, no, not since the Second World War has our country faced a challenge that depends so much on our collective solidarity,” she said. Instead, Germans have continued to go outside to enjoy the spring sunshine and socialize, even holding “corona parties”.Although Merkel did not announce any tougher measures in her speech, she said that could change at any time.Broadcaster NTV joined several German newspapers in describing the address as Merkel’s “final warning” to avoid mandatory lockdowns.The best-selling Bild tabloid called it a “historic” and stirring speech that marked a change in tone for the “usually so sober chancellor”. Hotels as hospitals Merkel’s speech echoed that of French President Emmanuel Macron, who in a somber address on Monday likened the outbreak to war.Germany is among the countries worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with latest figures showing 12 deaths and 8,198 confirmed cases on Wednesday, a jump of 1,042 from the previous day.The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for public health warned there could be 10 million cases within two to three months if people do not avoid contact.”Germany has an excellent health system,” Merkel said, thanking doctors and other medical workers “on the front line”.Nevertheless, “even our hospitals will be overwhelmed if too many patients are brought in with serious symptoms of the coronavirus in a short time”, the conservative leader added.The government earlier Wednesday said it planned to ramp up intensive care capabilities. Federal and state officials separately announced they could commandeer spaces like hotels and rehabilitation centers to treat people with milder symptoms.In her speech, Merkel reiterated that Berlin “will do everything it can to cushion the economic impact and preserve jobs” and discouraged citizens from hoarding.”Even if some shelves are emptied on one day, they will be replenished,” she promised, adding her thanks to those working in the food industry. Topics :center_img More border checks Merkel, who hails from Germany’s former communist East, said she understood how hard it was to give up “hard-fought rights” like freedom of movement and travel.Such decisions were never taken lightly in a democracy, she said, and could only be temporary. “But they are necessary right now to save lives.”Europe’s top economy on Monday introduced strict checks on its land frontiers with France, Austria, Luxembourg, Denmark and Switzerland, allowing through only cross-border commuters and delivery trucks.The German interior ministry expanded those restrictions on Wednesday evening to include European air and sea traffic.Starting immediately, there will be checks on flights arriving from Italy, Spain, France, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark and Luxembourg, as well as on ships arriving from Denmark.Those with “an urgent reason for travel and professional commuters” will be asked to show documentation to justify their arrival, the ministry said in a statement, while others will be denied entry. Although her 15 years in office have been marked by blows like the financial crisis, the 2015 refugee crisis and Brexit, the veteran leader has never taken to the airwaves to address citizens directly outside of traditional New Year’s greetings.”I truly believe we can succeed in this task, if all citizens truly understand their own tasks,” Merkel said.German authorities have shut down schools, many businesses and public spaces in recent days in increasingly desperate attempts to stem the spread of the virus.The country has, however, stopped short of ordering people to stay home, in contrast to tougher restrictions introduced in France, Belgium, Italy and Spain.last_img read more

Where the voters came down on sciencerelated ballot items

first_imgThe votes are in, and Republicans now control both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, but as ScienceInsider reported earlier, there were also a number of science-related items on state ballots yesterday. Here’s how things shook out:In Colorado and Oregon, voters rejected referenda that would have required genetically modified foods to be labeled. In Colorado, Proposition 105 was defeated by roughly a 2-1 ratio, with the latest numbers showing 66.4% of some 1,844,197 voters checking the “no” box. Oregon’s vote was much closer, as Measure 92 was defeated by just 1.3% of 1,334,791 votes cast, 50.7% to 49.3%.In Michigan, voters defeated by significant margins propositions to allow hunting of the state’s wolves. In spite of the vote, however, the matter isn’t settled. State courts will have to decide whether a measure passed by the legislature, and designed to circumvent yesterday’s vote, is constitutional. If courts uphold that measure, wolf hunting will be allowed. 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Country Emailcenter_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) In Maine, voters rejected a measure that would have barred the use of food baits to attract bears, by a vote of 52.7% to 47.3%. Bear biologists had come out against the measure, arguing that baiting was an important tool for managing problem bears and research.In other states:Alaska: Voters approved Ballot Measure 4, 65.3% to 34.7%, requiring legislative approval of a controversial gold mine proposed for the salmon-rich Bristol Bay area.Arizona: Voters approved Proposition 303, 78.3% to 21.7%, permitting terminally ill patients and their doctors to use experimental treatments that have completed only preliminary phase I safety and dose trials.Maine: Voters approved Question 2, 60.6% to 39.4%, providing $8 million in bonds to help create an animal and plant disease and insect control laboratory administered by the University of Maine’s Cooperative Extension service.Maine: Voters approved Question 4, 63.1% to 36.9%, providing $10 million in bonds, to be matched by $11 million in private funds, to build a genomics and disease research center at the Maine Technology Institute in Brunswick.Maine: Voters approved Question 5, 51.7% to 48.3%, providing $3 million in bonds, to be matched by $5.7 million in private funds, to modernize and expand a biological laboratory specializing in tissue repair and regeneration.Rhode Island: Voters approved Question 4, 63.4% to 36.6% providing $125 million in bonds for a College of Engineering building at the University of Rhode Island, Kingston.last_img read more