First Germans out of quarantine, firm linked to coronavirus to reopen

Munich (dpa) – Two weeks after Germany recorded its first cases of the new and potentially deadly coronavirus, people have begun leaving quarantine and a company at the centre of the country’s outbreak is to reopen its doors.

The virus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, is thought to have first reached Europe when a visiting Chinese woman passed it on to a colleague at a work training event on January 21 in the southern German state of Bavaria. Germany’s first case of infection was confirmed less than a week later.

The company, auto parts supplier Webasto, is set to reopen on Wednesday after closing its headquarters in the district of Starnberg to almost all of its around 1,000-strong workforce. Employees have spent the past couple of weeks working from home.

All 12 coronavirus cases confirmed in Bavaria were linked to the company.

On Sunday, 16 of the around 190 people told not to leave their homes – among them Webasto colleagues and their family members – were told they could leave isolation, the LGL local health authority said.

The majority of the others still in isolation are expected to be released in the coming days, provided that health officials see no reason to keep them, an LGL spokesman said on Monday.

Almost 43,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed worldwide and over a thousand people have died from the virus, the vast majority of them in China.

In addition to the dozen cases in Bavaria, Germany recorded two further cases of infection among its citizens who were repatriated from the Chinese region at the centre of the pandemic.

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