German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday warned that a dramatic explosion in the number of Coronavirus infections that has mutated in Britain, could force the country to stay under a nationwide lockdown until April. 

“If we don’t manage to stop this British virus, then we will have 10 times the number of cases by Easter. We need 8 to 10 more weeks of tough measures,” German newspaper Bild quoted Merkel as saying during an internal meeting of her Christian-Democrats party (CDU).

Last week, Germany extended a nationwide lockdown and toughened restrictions until January 31, as the situation “in several hospitals has become borderline”, in terms of hosting capacity. Citing the new strain of the virus, the was first spotted in the Britain, the German Chancellor supported that social contacts will need to be further reduced and announced that under the tightened measures, private gatherings will be allowed to host strictly one person from a different household. 

On Friday, BioNTech, the German company collaborating with US drugmaker Pfizer for a vaccine against COVID-19, said that a preliminary study showed that its vaccine works against the new variant, which experts have said is more contagious than normal coronavirus strains.

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