German Virus Cases Rise by Least in Four Days Before Curbs Eased

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The number of coronavirus cases in Germany increased by the least in four days as the nation prepares for a cautious loosening of some restrictions on public life.

There were 2,327 new infections in the 24 hours through Sunday, taking the total to 143,724, according todata from Johns Hopkins University. The number of fatalities rose by 186, the fewest in five days, to 4,538, while 85,400 people have recovered, more than in any other country, including China where the outbreak originated.

Germany will begin relaxing some restrictions on public life from Monday, while leaving most of the measures in place into next month. Smaller shops will be allowed to resume regular business next week, while schools will gradually reopen in early May.

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Germany has the fourth-highest number of cases in Europe behind Spain, Italy and France. More than 60,000 people have died from the virus in those three nations combined.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has singled out the reproduction factor — known by epidemiologists as R-naught — as a key way of gauging how successfully countries have kept the virus in check.

Germany’s latest R0 was 0.8 as of Saturday, according to a dailysituation report from the country’s public health authority, up from 0.7 on Friday. That means that each person with the virus infects an average of 0.8 other people, down from 0.9 on Wednesday.

Chancellery Minister Helge Braun cautioned Sunday that Germany must stick to strict hygiene and distancing rules even if infection rates are falling.

“The lower the infection numbers, the better we can track contact and break the infection chain,” Braun said in an interview with news agency DPA.

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