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Merkel urges Germans to reduce contacts and travel to curb coronavirus

BERLIN, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans on Saturday to curb social contacts and keep travel to a minimum, making a personal appeal after the federal and state governments struggled to agree on ways to contain a second wave of coronavirus infection.

“We have to do everything to prevent the virus from spreading out of control. Every day counts,” Merkel said in her weekly video podcast.

While Germany’s infection rates have been lower than in much of Europe, they have been accelerating and hit a daily record high of 7,830 on Saturday, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infections diseases.

The reported death toll rose by 33 to 9,767.

German leaders were unable this week to reach a consensus on strong new measures to contain the second COVID-19 wave. Courts in several regions have, meanwhile, overturned bans on hotel stays for visitors from infection hotspots.

Politicians and health experts have appealed to the population to take voluntary measures over and above those already prescribed - including wearing masks, avoiding close contact with others and hand washing.

“We have to go further,” Merkel said. “I appeal to you: Meet with fewer people, either at home or outside.

“Please forsake any journey that is not absolutely essential, every party that is not absolutely essential. Stay at home, where at all possible.” (Reporting by Douglas Busvine Editing by Frances Kerry)

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