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Germany sees signs of virus curve flattening

"The curve is flattening," said Lothar Wieler, showing "we are not helpless against this virus" and that restrictions such as social distancing and mask-wearing can help halt the march of Covid-19.

FILE: A passenger is tested by a doctor at a coronavirus screening station in the medical center of the airport in Duesseldorf, western Germany, on 27 July 2020. Picture: AFP

BERLIN - Germany is seeing tentative signs that a surge in coronavirus infections may be easing, the head of the country's disease control agency RKI said on Thursday.

"The curve is flattening," said Lothar Wieler, showing "we are not helpless against this virus" and that restrictions such as social distancing and mask-wearing can help halt the march of COVID-19.

Germany reported 21,866 new infections over the last 24 hours, according to RKI data.

The key reproduction figure has fallen below 1 to 0.89, meaning that 100 people are infecting 89 others - a sign that the new infections are falling.

While new infections might be starting to slow, the Robert Koch Institute chief said the situation could worsen in the coming weeks in hospitals, which may "reach their limits".

"We must prevent the situation from deteriorating," he said, stressing Germany's aim is to bring infection numbers down to a level that the healthcare system can cope with.

Wieler urged Germans to keep social contacts to a minimum, saying the measures would still be necessary even if there is a vaccine because it will take time to roll out the jabs.

Germany reimposed tough measures this month to help slow the outbreak, with restaurants, bars, leisure and cultural centres closing.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that only when 60% to 70% of the population has achieved immunity can COVID-19 be deemed to have been "more or less overcome".

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