German Chancellor Angela Merkel tested for coronavirus

Berlin (dpa) - Chancellor Angela Merkel was tested for the new coronavirus on Monday and is waiting for the result, government spokesman Steffen Seibert says.

"The chancellor is doing well," he says. "Now we are waiting for the result and will then see what follows."

Seibert could not say when the test result would arrive.

 German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday introduced tougher restrictions on people's freedom of movement to contain the spread of the coronavirus, before being told that she herself had to enter home quarantine.

On Friday, Merkel was given a precautionary pneumococcal vaccine by a doctor who then tested positive for the virus, the chancellor's spokesman said.
Merkel will now be tested regularly in the coming days, Steffen Seibert said, adding that "the chancellor will continue her
duties also during the home quarantine." 
Under the new rules, Merkel presented at a press conference, people must reduce all contacts to an absolute minimum, maintain a distance from one another of 1.5 metres at least, only go out with members of their own household or in groups of two at the most, and avoid group gatherings. 
Restaurants not already shut are now to close, although delivery services can continue to run. 
Hairdressers, cosmetic studios and massage parlours must also shut their doors.
Companies or institutions which are still running, particularly those interacting with the public, are to comply with hygiene regulations and ensure staff have adequate protection. 
People will still be able to go food shopping, go to the doctor, help others and do sport, Merkel said. 
But contraventions of the new rules will be penalized, she underlined at the press conference, where journalists were carefully spaced 1.5 metres apart. 
The chancellor agreed to the new measures during a telephone conference with state premiers. She told the press conference that she understood that people wanted clarity and unity across the country.   
Germans have mostly complied with social distancing measures so far and Merkel thanked them, saying, "I know these are painful, particularly when it comes to not visiting grandparents or friends."  
To those failing to comply, Merkel said, "This is my urgent appeal to the few who have struggled to follow the rules. Please let's all pull together to do what's right for our country. Show sense and heart." 
The rules are in place for at least two weeks.
They come as dpa's latest figures suggest Germany has reported more than 24,100 coronavirus infections and that more than 90 people have died.
Twelve of Germany's 16 states, among them populous Bavaria, Baden-Wuerttemberg, North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony, had agreed to wide-ranging contact bans ahead of Sunday's discussions.
Saxony banned people from leaving their homes without a valid reason, with going to work and shopping still permitted.
Bavaria has some of the most stringent rules, with people told to stay at home unless their journey is absolutely necessary after police identified numerous violations.
The state plans to continue with its original ruling, dpa has learned, although Merkel said an exception to the ban on more than two people interacting was to be made for families and people in the same household. 
Meanwhile a huge package of economic measures - potentially amounting to hundreds of billions of euros - is set to be agreed at cabinet on Monday and could be made law by Friday.
Dpa has learned from sources at the Economics Ministry that the government is planning improvements to special credit programmes for medium-sized and large companies.
The state-owned development bank KfW is to take over 90 per cent of the credit risk for working capital loans instead of the previous 80 per cent.
The disease first entered the human population in China late last year and has infected over 300,000 people worldwide.
Germany is one of the countries worst affected by the coronavirus, which results in Covid-19 in a significant percentage of the population, a pneumonia-like disease that can be deadly.
Italy is the now the worst-hit nation, with nearly 5,000 deaths, and Italian President Sergio Mattarella has written to his German counterpart.
"I hope that the experience Italy has first of all found in tackling the contagion can be useful to Europe and the world. I really hope Germany and other countries can be spared Italy's painful journey," Mattarella wrote to Germany's Frank-Walter Steinmeier.


Sunday, March 22nd 2020

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