BERLIN- Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of Germany's 16 states will later this week decide on additional restrictive measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus, her spokesman said on Monday.
The conference to be chaired by Merkel on Wednesday comes after new cases almost doubled within a week and two districts in the southern state of Bavaria imposed a two-week lockdown.
Merkel is eager to avoid a second national lockdown that threatens a fragile recovery of Europe's largest economy, which reported 8,685 new cases on Monday. The death toll rose by 24 to 10,056 and the infection rate stood at 74.9 per 100,000 people over the past seven days.
Government sources quoted Merkel as saying that the situation in Germany was "very, very serious" and without additional containment measures the number of daily new cases could reach 30,000 next week.
The COVID-19 situation in Germany, however, remains less serious than in other major European countries like Britain, France and Spain. France, which has imposed night-time curfews on major cities, on Sunday reported a record 52,010 new confirmed coronavirus infections in the space of 24 hours.
"(The conference) will be to discuss what can be done to contain the spread of the virus soon," said Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert during a news conference. "I expect decisions to be made."
Attempting to contain spiralling COVID-19 infections, the Rottal-Inn district in Bavaria announced a two-week lockdown starting on Tuesday that will force residents to stay at home unless outings are absolutely necessary.
The lockdown in Rottal-Inn, home to some 120,000 people, will be the second imposed in Germany on a local basis since April, after Berchtesgaden, 110 km to the south in the Bavarian Alps. Berchtesgaden has been in lockdown since Oct. 20.
Officials in Rottal-Inn said in a statement the decision was made after a spike in coronavirus cases in the district to more than 200 per 100,000 inhabitants over seven days.
(Reporting by Holger Hansen and Andreas Rinke Writing by Joseph Nasr Editing by Mark Heinrich and Michelle Martin) ((Joseph.Nasr@thomsonreuters.com; +49-30-2201-33711 ;))