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BERLIN: Coronavirus case numbers have slightly dropped in Germany, as the government's COVID-19 expert panel called for a gradual easing of restrictions in Europe's biggest economy.

Germany reported 76,465 new daily coronavirus cases on Monday, down 20% from the same day last week. The 7-day infection incidence per 100,000 people also fell to 1,460 from 1,467 on Sunday.

Germany's expert panel said on Sunday that the government needed to put plans in place for easing curbs, given the current wave of infections was expected to flatten in the coming weeks, but it warned against loosening restrictions too soon.

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"Thanks to the milder course of the disease, we are entering a new phase of the pandemic, which allows prospects for gradual opening," Hendrik Wuest, the prime minister of Germany's most populous state North Rhine-Westphalia, told Welt newspaper.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the heads of the federal states are due to meet on Wednesday to discuss possible easing.

Finance Minister Christian Lindner also called on federal and state governments to decide on a comprehensive easing at their meeting on Wednesday, adding that there must be a "noticeable difference in everyday life" afterwards.

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