March 24, 2020 / 12:18 PM / 13 days ago

Calls to protect economy rather than slow virus are cynical: German minister

German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz addresses the media during a joint news conference with Economy Minister Peter Altmaier (not pictured) to reveal details of a supplementary budget to counter the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Berlin, Germany, March 23, 2020. Michael Sohn/Pool via REUTERS

BERLIN (Reuters) - Calls to protect the economy rather than slow the spread of the coronavirus are “cynical and ill-considered,” German Finance Minster Olaf Scholz told Bild newspaper on Tuesday .

“You can see that countries which were pursuing that objective, as Britain appears to have been doing, have now changed course,” he said in an online video interview.

Asked about suggestions from some U.S. politicians that older people might be sacrificed for the sake of the economy their grandchildren would inherit, he was even more forthright.

“That makes me shudder,” he said. “It’s utterly cynical and indefensible and I am very glad to live in a country where such opinions have no relevance.”

President Donald Trump said on Monday he was considering how to reopen the U.S. economy when a 15-day shutdown ends next week, even as the highly contagious coronavirus is spreading and hospitals are bracing for a wave of virus-related deaths.

Reporting by Michelle Martin and Thomas Escritt; Editing by Joseph Nasr

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