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German Chancellor Angela Merkel360b /

BERLIN, Germany, March 11, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) ― The Chancellor of Germany has stated that up to 70 percent of her country’s inhabitants are in danger of contracting COVID-19, the coronavirus infecting people across the world. 

Angela Merkel, 65, made the startling prediction today at a news conference in Berlin. 

“When the virus is out there, the population has no immunity and no therapy exists, then 60 to 70 percent of the population will be infected,” she said.

“The process has to be focused on not overburdening the health system by slowing the virus’s spread … It’s about winning time.”  

Germany has 82.9 million inhabitants. According to John Hopkins University, Germany currently has reported 1,629 cases of the coronavirus. Three people in Germany have died of the disease, and 25 have recovered. 

Merkel’s comments were criticized by Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, who suggested they could cause panic. 

According to Czech news service CTK, Babis said, “I don’t want to comment on the situation in Germany, although I believe that such statements rather cause panic. In any case, we have adopted strong measures for such worst-case scenarios to be out of the question.”  

Researchers at the University of Toronto are predicting that between 35 percent and 70 percent of Canadians could contract the virus. According to the National Post, interventions by public health authorities could reduce this number by “about half.” Epidemiologist Dr. David Fisman said it would take “aggressive social distancing and large scale quarantines” to spare more than that. 

“That’s still a huge number of people ill,” Fisman told the National Post. 

“I’m not going to share more specific numbers because I think they will scare people to no particular end.”

Canada has 38 million inhabitants, and thus even if only 20 percent of the population contracts the virus, 7,600,000 people will get sick. At present, however, only 93 infections have been reported in the country.

Of western nations, Italy has been hit particularly hard by the virus. Reporting 10,149 cases, it is second only to China in infections, and 631 Italians have died. The number of infections there is rapidly increasing. According to the World Health Organization, over 1,000 new cases have been reported over three days. Italian schools and universities have suspended classes, public religious services have been banned, and museums, theaters, cinemas and gyms have been closed until April 2. Italians are being warned to stay at least a meter away from each other.   

Some nations that have so far experienced fewer cases are taking serious precautions now. Today, Poland ordered schools, universities, museums, theaters and cinemas to close for two weeks although only 27 cases of the coronavirus have been reported in the country. In contrast to the Italian Catholic bishops, who bowed to their government’s request to suspend Sunday Masses, the Polish bishops have directed their priests to say more Masses so that congregations at each service will be smaller.  

The World Health Organization announced today that the coronavirus epidemic is now classified as a pandemic.