GERMANY's coronavirus “R” infection rate has risen above 1 sparking fears lockdown will have to be brought back.
The country began easing restrictions around two weeks ago, allowing some shops to reopen, after faring better than its European neighbours as a result of an aggressive policy of mass testing.
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It edged closer to normality this week, allowing some kids to go back to school, with museums, hairdressers, churches and more car factories reopening.
But just days later, the country’s rate of infection has shot up, raising concerns that the pandemic could once again spiral out of control.
The reproduction number, or “R” — the average number of people each person with the virus infects — was close to its lowest recorded level earlier this week at 0.71.
But it now stands at 1.1, The Robert Koch Institute for disease control said.
When it goes above 1, the number of infections is growing.
The loosening measures were far too poorly prepared.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel previously warned if the R rate increased even slightly above 1 then the country’s health service faced being overwhelmed.
She said: “If we get to a point where each patient is infecting 1.1 people, then by October we will be back at the limits of our health system in terms of intensive-care beds.
“If we get to 1.2 … then we will hit the full capacity of our health system as early as July.”
Announcing the easing of the lockdown on Wednesday, the German leader also revealed an “emergency brake” to allow for the reimposition of restrictions if infections pick up again.
And she is already facing calls to use it to stop the outbreak spiralling out of control.