Angela Merkel warns 70 percent of Germany could get coronavirus

German Chancellor Angela Merkel issued a stark warning Wednesday, citing expert estimates that up to 60 to 70 percent of the population could be infected by the coronavirus.

Speaking at a news conference in Berlin alongside Jens Spahn, German's health minister, Merkel said there was no known cure and the focus would be on slowing the spread of the virus.

“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 population of Germany is about 83 million people.

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

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a news conference about the coronavirus outbreak in Germany, in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, March 11, 2020.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a news conference about the coronavirus outbreak in Germany, in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (AP)

As of Wednesday, Germany had almost 1,300 cases of the virus, according to the Robert Koch Institute for disease control, and three deaths.

Comparatively, Italy has been the worst-hit European nation, with more than 10,000 cases and 631 deaths, according to the Civil Protection Agency.

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David Jacobson, a professor of global business strategy at SMU's Cox School of Business and a visiting professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing, told Fox News earlier this month that Germany had "taken this disease seriously since December."

They are committed to transparency, testing and have devoted a huge amount of resources to track sources of what appears to be community spread so that the root cause of each chain can be found and those connected in any way can be warned, isolated, tested, etc.," he said. "On March 3, the Italian government was still deciding if this was an Asian problem or something different. When an Italian senator wore a face mask to the senate chambers, he was ridiculed."

Nonetheless, Merkel had yet to address the situation publicly and had been criticized in the media for her failure of leadership.

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“No appearances, no speech, no leadership in the crisis,” the German daily Bild wrote.

Both Merkel and Spahn, who is leading his country's response to the virus, have ruled out sealing Germany's borders to prevent the virus spreading, rejecting calls to follow neighbor Austria's lead.

"This is a test for our solidarity, our common sense and care for each other. And I hope we pass the test," Merkel said during the press conference.

But the chancellor also said she would not rule out suspending a so-called "black zero" budget – keeping the books balance – to help fight the virus.

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Germany’s federal system of government has come under the spotlight as the response to the virus comes to the forefront. Under the system, power is devolved to the 16 states and regional authorities to decide whether to take up Spahn’s advice to cancel events with over 1,000 participants.

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Earlier Wednesday, Spahn said it was “astonishing” that no decision was taken to call off a soccer match between Union Berlin and Bayern Munich scheduled in Berlin on Saturday. There has since been an announcement that the game would take place behind closed doors.

Fox News' Hollie McKay contributed to this report.