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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Merkel blames ‘perfectionism’ for Germany’s coronavirus problems

Angela Merkel has blamed Germans’ “tendency towards perfectionism” for the country’s struggles with the coronavirus pandemic.

The German chancellor acknowledged to public broadcaster ARD that her government made mistakes during the crisis, including on plans for an Easter lockdown.

Ms Merkel, who has been in office since 2005, also expressed her frustration over the actions of some of Germany’s state governors, including members of her own party, who resisted stricter virus control measures they had agreed to previously.

The government last week was forced to reverse a last-minute order for a strict lockdown over the Easter period, just a day after the measures were announced.

The plan, which drew backlash from business leaders and ministers, was a “mistake”, Ms Merkel said, adding that she took “ultimate responsibility” for the U-turn.

But speaking to ARD, she stood by her pledge to offer every adult a vaccine by the end of the summer, and insisted Germany still compares well with most of its neighbours.

“Perhaps we’re very perfectionist at times and want to do everything right, because obviously whoever makes a mistake always faces quite a lot of public criticism,” she said.

“But there needs to be flexibility, too. That, I believe , is an attribute that we as Germans perhaps need to learn a little bit more, alongside our tendency towards perfectionism.”

Ms Merkel cited the need for doctors and vaccine centres to have lists on hand of people who are willing to receive shots left over at the end of the day as an example of perfectionism.

Ms Merkel is not running again in September’s national election, but recent opinion polls have shown falling support for her government.

As of 26 March, Germany had only vaccinated about 10 per cent of its adult population with at least one jab, compared to 55 per cent in the UK and 25 per cent in the US.

The chancellor urged Germans not to become overwhelmed by despair.

“We have a difficult situation,” she said. “But look at our neighbours. With the exception of Denmark they are all grappling with the same problems, in part from a much more difficult position.

“We also need to voice a bit of courage and strength,” she added.

On Monday, Germany’s disease control agency reported 9,872 newly confirmed cases in the past 24 hours and 43 further deaths.

The country has recorded almost 2.8 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 75,913 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

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