19:42 GMT26 February 2021
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    Angela Merkel has called on party colleagues to take stronger action against the coronavirus pandemic amid fears that new COVID-19 strains, including those discovered in the UK and South Africa, are increasing the incidence of the disease in Germany.

    Coronavirus infection numbers in Germany have risen as the country struggles to contain a new variant of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chancellor Angela Merkel said during a video conference cited by the newspaper Bild on Tuesday.

    Earlier this month, a new variant of COVID-19 was registered in a local Bavaria hospital. Berlin's Charite hospital later confirmed that the mutation was new to the medical community, and had not been previously detected.

    The German Chancellor quickly introduced new restrictions, stricter than those previous, in a bid to tackle the threat from the new COVID-19 strain, believed to be more virulent. Comparing the current situation with “sitting on a powder keg”, Merkel warned party colleagues that unless the government imposes new curbs, the country would be thrown back in its progress in fighting the pandemic.

    The German government in late 2020 introduced a series of restrictions on public life in a bid to grapple with the growing incidence of COVID-19 cases. The restrictions drew angry rebuke from some German residents and led to several anti-lockdown protests across the country.

    In December 2020, Germany reported its first case of the South African strain of the coronavirus, in a person who had returned from Johannesburg the same month. Health authorities additionally confirmed that the UK strain of the COVID-19 pandemic has been present in Germany since November 2020.

    As of 25 January, Germany has confirmed 2,141,665 coronavirus cases and 52,087 COVID-related deaths, according to the Robert Koch Institute.

    restrictions, lockdown, COVID-19, Germany, Angela Merkel
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