BERLIN - Germany will not be able to lift all measures aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus at the beginning of February, Health Minister Jens Spahn said, stressing the need to further reduce contacts to fend off a more virulent strain of the virus.
"One thing is already evident: It will not be possible to loosen all restrictions on Feb. 1," Spahn told Deutschlandfunk radio on Wednesday, adding it would take another two or three months for the effects of the vaccination campaign to kick in.
Top-selling tabloid Bild reported on Tuesday that Chancellor Angela Merkel had told a meeting of lawmakers that the current lockdown could last until the start of April.
The German cabinet is set to meet later on Wednesday to approve stricter controls on people entering the country after a national lockdown was last week tightened and extended to the end of January.
The new rules will require people arriving from countries with high case loads or where a new, more virulent strain of the virus is circulating to take a test for the disease.
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases reported 19,600 new infections on Wednesday. The death toll rose by 1,060 to 42,637, the tally showed.
(Reporting by Sabine Siebold Editing by Riham Alkousaa and Madeline Chambers) ((Sabine.Siebold@thomsonreuters.com; +49-30-2201-33574;))