Bitter Angela Merkel says 'British mutation' to blame for Germany's lockdown chaos

Speaking in the Bundestag, the veteran leader said the Covid variant was behind a surge in the number of infections across Germany. She told MPs it was to blame for a “new pandemic”, which has forced the country into an extended lockdown to curb the spread of the disease. Mrs Merkel said: “A mutation of the old original virus has now gained the upper hand.

“We are basically in a new pandemic.

“The effect of the first shutdown would be in such a way that we would be significantly below an incidence of 50 everywhere and all over Germany if we still had the old virus.

“But this is not the case because this mutation is more aggressive, more contagious, and significantly more deadly. This means the R rate has gone up above one again and we are back in a phase of exponential growth.”

The German health authorities reported 15,813 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday.

The incidence level had jumped to 108 per 100,000 people over seven days.

Berlin has warned any rate higher than 100 would put significant strain on the country’s intensive care units.

The government has proposed an “emergency brake” of tougher lockdown measures to bring down the number of infections.

Germany has now extended its current restrictions to at least April 18.

Mrs Merkel said yesterday: “The way is hard and rocky.

“But the virus will slowly but surely lose its horror.”

The Chancellor was, however, forced to perform a screeching U-turn on her decision to completely shut down the country over Easter.

Mrs Merkel claimed she had made a mistake to announce the planned lockdown just 34 hours after authorities decided to extend the holidays from three to five days.

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Dietmar Bartsch, parliamentary leader of the leftwing Die Linke party, claimed Germany was facing a “veritable crisis of confidence in the political leadership of the country”.

Under the planned Easter shutdown, two additional public holiday days would have been added meaning food shots could be shut for close to a week.

Mrs Merkel said: “There were good reasons to do it but it was not feasible in the short time we had available — if it could ever have been implemented in such a way that the cost and benefit were in a halfway reasonable relationship.”

Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg

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