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Merkel decries populists who say coronavirus is harmless

Empty Tables Of A Restaurant Are Pictured, In Berlin's Mitte District
Empty tables of a restaurant are pictured as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues, in Berlin's Mitte district, Germany October 28, 2020. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Populists who purport the coronavirus is harmless are dangerous and irresponsible, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday, defending a circuit break lockdown announced on Wednesday that is aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.

“It is only with solidarity and transparency that we will be able to confront the pandemic,” she told the Bundestag lower house of parliament, adding the pandemic was a challenge to the democratic system.

“Lies and disinformation, conspiracy theories and hatred damage not only the democratic debate but also the fight against the virus,” she said during a speech in which she was at times heckled, adding this put human lives in danger.

Merkel announced on Wednesday that Germany would impose an emergency month-long lockdown that includes the closure of restaurants, gyms and theatres to reverse a spike in coronavirus cases that risks overwhelming hospitals.

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