Germany warns of ‘disastrous’ lockdown impact as Merkel ally forecasts coronavirus return

Germany has been suffering from a weak economy for months and economists have warned the coronavirus crisis could cause a further 6.3 percent drop in GDP in 2020. Chancellor Angela Merkel began to ease restrictions two weeks ago, allowing some business to reopen while health officials keep monitoring the infection rate for signals of a second wave of COVID-19. Economy Minister Peter Altmaier warned being forced to flip-flop on lockdown could have a “disastrous” impact on the German economy.

Speaking to BBC Newsnight, Mr Altmaier said: “This is not only a deeply humanitarian argument but, as I speak in my capacity as Minister of the Economy, it’s also an economic argument.

“When you have to switch from liberalising to shutting down again two or three times, then it would have disastrous consequences for the economy.”

Mr Altmaier also forecast a resurgence of the virus in the winter months but he voiced his hope the Government will be able to contain it by supplying the public with the best tools to prevent contagion.

He added: “The virus certainly will be back in the winter.

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“If we can, by applying testing, by providing a tracing app, by providing the best available medical care, then we can keep new cases as low as possible.”

Germany has been one of the most successful countries in the world in containing and managing the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. 

With over 167,000 COVID-19 cases confirmed across the country, less than 7,000 infected patients have died since the outbreak was officially recognised.

However, researchers at the University of Bonn have now suggested the real number of coronavirus cases in Germany.

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The study argued a larger number of the public had caught the virus but was asymptomatic, showing no symptom at all throughout their illness.

Researchers analysed blood and nasal swabs from a sample of 919 residents in the town of Gangelt, northwest Germany, where people were infected in February while visiting a carnival.

The review found one in five of those who had been infected with coronavirus reported no symptoms.

Dr Martin Exner, a co-author of the research and head of Bonn’s Institute for Hygiene and Public Health, said: “Apparently, one in five infections occurs without noticeable symptoms, suggesting that infected persons who secrete virus and can infect others cannot be reliably identified on the basis of recognisable symptoms of the disease.


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“Every supposedly healthy person we encounter can unknowingly carry the virus. We must be aware of this and act accordingly.”

Professor Gunther Hartmann said: “The results can help to further improve the models to calculate how the virus spreads.

“So far the underlying data has been relatively weak.”

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