BERLIN - First signs that the transmission of the novel coronavirus has again picked up were visible in German official data, just as the country attempts a cautious easing of its lockdown measures.

The reproduction or infection rate - under close watch by health authorities - mounted again to approximately 1.0, meaning each infected person passes the virus on to one other, figures from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for disease control showed late on Monday.
Ministers and virologists have hammered home the importance of squeezing the number below 1.0.

The country has seen days of intense media and political debate after Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Germany's federal states against loosening their lockdowns too quickly.

Since mid-April, the infection rate had sunk as low as 0.7 before inching up again.    
Meanwhile, the mortality rate from COVID-19 has also been rising day by day.   
By Tuesday, it had reached 3.8 percent, according to RKI figures, which remains well below some neighbouring countries such as France.
The latest data showed 156,337 cases in Germany and 5,913 deaths.

Rising infection and mortality rates could pose a puzzle for authorities, as a population chafing at lockdown measures is just beginning to enjoy some refound freedoms and an initial united front in politics and media crumbles.(FA)