German Chancellor on Tuesday described the recent spate of coronavirus infections across Europe as “serious” while she also urged EU member states to learn from the mistakes made when the pandemic first hit the continent earlier this year.

Lockdowns caused the bloc’s gross domestic product to plunge and Merkel told local representatives from the European Committee of the Regions: “We have to show that we have learned our lesson.”

“We have to ask the people of Europe to be careful, to follow the rules, to keep their distance, to cover their mouths and noses and to do what they can to contain the virus while still maintaining economic activity,” the German chancellor added during the video conference.

The warning from Merkel came as the World Health Organization said there had been more than 700,000 new coronavirus cases reported in Europe last week — a record-high for the continent and a jump of 34% on the previous week’s tally.

Meeting of all state premiers in Germany

Meanwhile, Germany must agree on nationwide rules to contain the spread of the virus, the premier of Bavaria said.

Speaking ahead of a meeting between Chancellor Merkel and the premiers of all 16 German states on Wednesday, Markus Söder said the next four weeks would be crucial for whether Germans could celebrate Christmas in a relaxed manner.

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“We must now set the course jointly, otherwise there is a danger that it could get out of control,” he said.

Söder is calling for the wider usage of masks, including compulsory wearing in elevators, while celebrations should be smaller and more controlled.

Germany has experienced relatively low infection and death rates in comparison with its European neighbors, but the number of daily cases has spiked in recent weeks with Merkel warning there could be 19,200 infections per day if current trends continue.

jsi/rc (Reuters, dpa, AP)

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