Workplace infection results in Germany’s first coronavirus case

The German man who became the country’s first confirmed coronavirus case was infected a visiting Chinese colleague during a work training event, local authorities confirmed on Tuesday.

The case was first confirmed by health authorities in the southern state of Bavaria late Monday.

The 33-year-old man had been working in small groups with the colleague, a woman from Shanghai whose symptoms only emerged during her flight home from Germany on Thursday, according to Andreas Zapf, president of the LGL state office for health and food security.

The World Health Organization had previously said it was aware of just one case of human-to-human transmission outside of China, in Vietnam.

Bavarian health authorities are testing 40 work colleagues and family members who came into contact with the patients, the head of the LGL’s task force for infectious disease said.

“The number could still rise,” Martin Roth said.

The tests are also to include a local kindergarten attended by the German patient’s children.

No further cases have been identified at this moment, although Zapf said “this is not to be ruled out.”

The company at the centre of the German infection is Webasto, an automotive parts supplier based on Stockdorf in the district of Starnberg.

Webasto Group board chairman Holger Engelmann said the health of company employees was a top priority.

“We are in close communication with the relevant authorities and are keeping colleagues regularly informed about the next steps,” he said in a statement, assuring that all communications would be transparent and comprehensive.

Zapf said German authorities were “very thankful” to Webasto for its rapid response.

Prior to her business trip to Germany, the Chinese woman had received a visit from her parents, who come from the Wuhan region, where the deadly outbreak originated.

The virus, which belongs to the same family of coronaviruses that caused an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2002, has spread from its origins in Wuhan, China, to about a dozen countries on four continents.

The German man developed symptoms over the weekend but returned to work on Monday, before allowing himself to be admitted to hospital in light of the news.

He is said to be in “good condition” but is still receiving medical care at a clinic in Munich, the Bavarian capital.

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