The German Chancellor blamed an “exponential” rise in coronavirus cases on the Kent strain, which was first detected in September last year. As a result, Ms Merkel said she has little choice but to introduce new lockdown measures from April 1 – cancelling the country’s Easter plans.
The Chancellor said: “We are in a new pandemic.”
She said the highly contagious Kent variant had become the dominant strain in Germany.
Ms Merkel added: “Essentially, we have a new virus… it is much deadlier, much more infectious and infectious for much longer.
“The situation is serious. Case numbers are rising exponentially and intensive care beds are filling up again.”
But social media users have responded to Ms Merkel’s comments with fury, with one user claiming the EU clearly has a grudge against the UK.
They wrote: “I hear Merkel is blaming the Kent variant for the reason they are going into emergency lockdown and cancels Easter.
“The EU doesn’t like us, does it? It is pathetic.
“Did they blame China at any time?”
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The country reported a further 7,485 infections in the past 24 hours and an additional 250 deaths.
As a result, the Chancellor has announced an “emergency brake” in restrictions over the Easter break.
For five days from April, Germans are being asked to stay at home and reduce social contacts.
In-person religious services have been cancelled, big family gatherings are banned with only five people allowed to meet, and all non-essential shops have been told to close.
Germany isn’t the only EU member state to see a surge in Covid cases.
France, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland are all seeing a sharp uptake in cases.
The rise in infections comes as the bloc grapples with a slow vaccination rollout.