Merkel Claims Coronavirus Biggest Challenge to Germany Since World War II

BERLIN, GERMANY - MARCH 18: In this handout photo provided by the German Government Press Office (BPA), German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses the nation via a video statement about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on March 18, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. This is the first time in her 15-year tenure as …
Steffen Kugler/Bundesregierung via Getty Images

In a historic first unscheduled national broadcast, German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed the public saying the coronavirus outbreak is the most serious situation the country has faced since the Second World War.

The German chancellor addressed the people on Wednesday evening stating: “The situation is serious. Take it seriously. Since German unification, no, since the Second World War, there has been no challenge to our nation that has demanded such a degree of common and united action.”

Merkel went on to call for unity among the German people and appealed to a sense of duty in the coming days and weeks ahead to help stop the spread of the virus, Deutsche Welle reports.

“I am addressing you today in this unusual manner, because I want to tell you what is guiding me as chancellor and all of my colleagues in the government at this time. That is part of an open democracy — that we explain our political decisions and make them transparent,” she said.

“It’s down to each and every one of us. We are not doomed to helplessly watch the spread of the virus. We have a means to fight it: we must practice social distancing out of consideration for one another,” the chancellor added and went on to compliment medical staff and those working at supermarkets.

According to recent statistics provided by Johns Hopkins University, Germany now has over 12,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Wednesday, putting the country behind just Spain and Italy for the largest number of cases in Europe.

Unlike France, Italy, and Spain, the German government has not put the country under a full lockdown but did shut its borders to five neighbouring countries in order to combat the spread of the virus.

Mortality rates among elderly infected with coronavirus are much higher than other age groups, according to response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force Dr Deborah Birx.

Germany could be particularly vulnerable as the country has one of the highest median ages of any country in the world.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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