BERLIN – Tougher measures which Germany would implement in the fight against the spread of COVID-19 were “suitable, necessary and proportionate”, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in her speech in the Bundestag, the lower house of the German parliament, on Thursday.

In recent weeks, the number of new COVID-19 infections in Germany had “skyrocketed”, said Merkel. “We are in a dramatic situation at the beginning of the cold season. It affects us all. Without exception.”

COVID-19 infections in Germany reached a new record on Thursday, increasing by 16,774 within one day, bringing the total tally to 481,013 cases, according to Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the federal government agency for disease control and prevention.

Due to the high COVID-19 infections in the country, the federal and state governments agreed on far-reaching restrictions on daily life, initially limited to the month of November. Measures include tougher contact restrictions as well as closing restaurants and bars.

It was important to reduce contacts to an “absolutely necessary minimum” in the coming weeks, said Merkel and stressed that “the winter will be hard, four long hard months, but it will end”.

Merkel promised that the German government would support companies affected by the partial lockdown. “I understand the frustration, indeed the desperation in these sectors very well.”

She added that Minister of Finance Olaf Scholz and Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier would present specific measures in the coming days on supporting companies affected.

As the world is caught in the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries including Germany, France, Italy, China, Russia, Britain and the United States are racing to find a vaccine.

According to the website of the World Health Organization, as of Oct. 19, there were 198 COVID-19 candidate vaccines being developed worldwide, and 44 of them were in clinical trials.

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