German CDU chairman calls for harder lockdown measures

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FILE PHOTO: COVID-19 Vaccination of patients at their homes in Cologne

FRANKFURT (Reuters) -Armin Laschet, chairman of Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and her would-be successor as chancellor, said on Monday that Germany needed harder lockdown measures to break a rise in coronavirus infections.

Germany, despite months of restrictions, has seen a rise in infections as it lags Britain, Israel and the United States in the pace of vaccinations.

The statements by Laschet, premier of Germany's most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia, follow comments over the weekend from another prominent politician who called for a shorter and even harder lockdown.

Laschet, speaking at a vaccination center in Aachen, said Germany must create a lockdown that bridges the time until immunizations can make a difference.

"We are very close to the goal. For the last meters we need an extra effort and that's what I’m calling for today," he said.

Laschet called for fewer private contacts, which could require curfews at night, and for more people to work from home.

He said that a meeting planned for April 12 among the premiers of German states and the federal government should take place this week instead.

Germany will have immunized 20% of its population against the novel coronavirus by the beginning of May, health minister Jens Spahn said on Monday.

Spahn, speaking at a vaccination centre in Berlin, said Germany had taken three months to get shots to the first 10% of its people who have now been vaccinated.

"We will manage the next 10% in a month in light of the expected deliveries (of vaccinations)," he said.

(Reporting by Holger Hansen and Tom Sims; editing by Barbara Lewis and Angus MacSwan)