Germany is holding a national memorial day on Sunday for its nearly 80,000 victims of the coronavirus pandemic.
President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Chancellor Angela Merkel are attending two special memorial events, as the country battles a renewed surge in COVID-19 cases.
How Germany is mourning its COVID victims
Merkel and Steinmeier first attended a morning service at Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church — a memorial in Berlin against war and destruction.
“Sickness, dying and death cannot be just pushed away in this long year, they have cut deeply into the lives of many people,” said Georg Baetzing, the chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference, at the service.
Later Sunday, they will take part in a ceremony at the capital’s Konzerthaus, where the president will make a speech.
With pandemic curbs still in force restricting the number of people who can attend, the ceremonies will be broadcast live on public television.
Steinmeier is expected to remind families of those who died that they are not alone in their suffering.
While many were unable to visit or touch their dying relatives due to the risk of infection, others have been left grieving on their own, as funerals or memorials are curtailed by pandemic curbs.
“80,000 deaths is still quite a serious number and something that has hit Germany quite substantially,” said DW’s political correspondent Hans Brandt, speaking outside the church following the morning service.
“There are people who say that the number of deaths could have been reduced further if the measures taken to control the pandemic had been more rigorous,” he added.
Death toll expected to rise in Germany’s third wave
Sunday’s ceremony comes as health authorities warn that many more will succumb to the virus.
Lothar Wieler, president of Germany’s Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases, said the situation in intensive care units was worsening, and in most cases, they are now treating people in the 15- to 49-year-old age group.
Fed up with the dithering States, Merkel’s government agreed a law change with parliament, that binds all 16 states to impose the same tougher measures such as nighttime curfews in hard-hit areas, once any region hits a 7-day incidence rate of 100 per 100 000 people.
With material from AFP
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