German Health Minister Jens Spahn told CNBC on Wednesday it’s “too early to say” whether the country will extend its partial lockdown beyond the month of November, contending more time is needed to determine if the latest round of coronavirus restrictions has adequately reduced transmission.
“We need patience, actually, because the numbers of today actually are the infections that have taken place one week or more days ago,” Spahn said in an interview that aired on “Closing Bell.” “It will be the end of this week that we might see the results of the new lockdown light we have now.”
Germany’s seven-day average of new coronavirus is up almost 22% compared with a week ago, according to CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data. The daily average of nearly 19,800 new diagnosed infections in the last week is an all-time high in the country, according to CNBC’s analysis.
“We still have an increase, yes, but a very much lower one than we have seen in the past days, last week, for example,” said Spahn, who has been federal health minister since 2018. However, on Wednesday, Germany reported its largest increase in deaths from Covid-19 since April, according to Reuters.
Germany’s four-week partial lockdown went into effect Nov. 2, shuttering bars, restaurants and theaters while keeping schools open. Shops also can stay open, but with capacity restrictions in place. When German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the restrictions, on Oct. 28, the country’s seven-day average of new cases was more than 11,000.
Germany received praise for its handling of the pandemic in the spring, but it has seen a resurgence in Covid-19 cases like much of the European continent. Merkel on Wednesday warned “that the second wave will be more severe” than the initial Covid-19 outbreak.
Spahn acknowledged the economic challenges caused by the imposition of public-health restrictions, which has some warning of a double-dip recession across the eurozone. France also has gone back into a partial shutdown that is set to last through Dec. 1, at least. The Czech Republic, with its health-care system deeply strained, went into a second lockdown in late October that has since been extended to Nov. 20.
However, Spahn said aggressive action is needed to control the virus before it spreads further, ultimately leading to additional economic pain. That is why Germany’s restrictions are not quite as strict as its neighbors, Spahn contended. “If you wait too long until you lockdown, then you really have very high numbers and the lockdown even needs to be harder.”
Germany has 726,172 confirmed coronavirus cases, according to data from Hopkins. Almost 12,000 people have died from Covid-19.