'It is serious,' Merkel told the nation, 'take it seriously.'
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that the coronavirus outbreak is the country's biggest challenge since World War Two.
In a rare direct address to the nation, Merkel urged Germans to take the virus seriously and said that every citizen would need to play their part in preventing it from spreading.
"Let me say that this is serious. Take it seriously. Since German unification. No, since the Second World War, there has not been a challenge for our country which was so dependent, on our joint, solidary action," she said.
Germany had 11,973 confirmed virus cases as of Wednesday evening, the fifth-highest number in the world, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Among all the people with the virus in the country, 28 have died, the university's tally said.
Merkel said that despite Germany having one of the best healthcare systems in the world, it would be overwhelmed by a surge of patients in the short period of time.
She called on everyone in the country of 83 million to stay home and to practice social distancing during the times they must go out, despite the natural instinct to want to come together during times of worry.
“I appeal to you: Please obey the rules, which will now be valid for the coming times,” she said.
“We as a government will constantly check what needs to be corrected but also, what perhaps still needs to be done.”