Germany saw its new coronavirus cases drop for the fifth consecutive day as the country considers whether to extend a nationwide lockdown beyond this week.
The daily increase in infections of 2,218 was the lowest this month and brought the total to 130,072, according to figures from John Hopkins University. Fatalities rose by 172 to 3,194, the biggest rise since April 10. Germany has the fourth-highest number of cases in Europe, though its death rate is relatively low at about 2.5%.
Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to meet with regional premiers on Wednesday to discuss how soon social-distancing measures can be eased. Over the weekend, Health Minister Jens Spahn told Bild TV that if a downward trend is confirmed, the focus could shift to relaxing the restrictions imposed last month. The National Academy of Sciences on Monday recommended that primary schools and lower secondary education should be gradually reopened as soon as possible.
It comes as governments in Europe are revisiting strict social distancing rules introduced to fight the spread of the coronavirus. Italy last week extended nationwide restrictions until May 3 with only slight concessions to businesses demanding a restart of the economy, while French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday prolonged his country’s lockdown to May 11, following the first increase in the daily death toll in four days.
British ministers will also decide in the next three days on extending the country’s lockdown, with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab telling reporters it was likely to carry on.
By Andrew Blackman