BERLIN (Reuters) – The coronavirus pandemic will last for at least the rest of this year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff told Deutschlandfunk radio on Thursday.

“We are not living after the pandemic now – rather we are living in the middle of a pandemic, one that will be with us for a while – at least for this year and that’s being very optimistic,” Helge Braun said.

Merkel announced steps on Wednesday to ease the coronavirus lockdown in Germany but at the same time launched an “emergency brake” mechanism allowing for renewed restrictions in case infections pick up again.

Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Scot W. Stevenson

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