Berlin (CNN)Germany risks squandering the gains it has made in slowing down the spread of the novel coronavirus if the country opens up too quickly, Chancellor Angela Merkel warned, joining leaders across Europe who have cautioned that any easing of lockdown restrictions would likely be gradual.The country is “still at the beginning” of the coronavirus crisis and will have to live with the virus for a long time, Merkel told Germany’s parliament. “Nobody likes to hear this but it is the truth. We are not living through the final phase of this crisis,” she added.German federal and state governments recently agreed to loosen some of the social distancing restrictions implemented to combat Covid-19, including allowing smaller shops to reopen. But Merkel warned against moving too fast. “This interim result is fragile. We are on thin ice, one could even say on thinnest ice,” Merkel cautioned. The country’s center for disease control, the Robert Koch Institute, said the number of new infections remains moderate with 2,352 recorded in 24 hours. Germany’s coronavirus death toll stood at at 5,094 on Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University, which records that it has one of the lowest mortality rates of the countries most affected

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