Europe’s first case of human-to-human transmitted coronavirus was confirmed in Germany on Tuesday.
The infected 33-year-old man from the Starnberg area of Bavaria caught the virus from a company colleague visiting from China. Both work at automotive supplier Webasto, headquartered near Munich.
The Robert Koch Institute said that the case in Germany is the first recorded instance of the virus being transmitted outside Asia. The Bavarian health ministry said that there appears to be no more cases in Germany, and that the risk of the infection spreading is low.
The Chinese employee from Shanghai had come to Webasto’s German headquarters for a seminar on 21 January, but “started to feel sick on the flight home on 23 January,” head of the Bavarian state office for health and food safety, Andreas Zapf, said on Tuesday.
She tested positive for the coronavirus on her return to China. The woman’s parents, whom she had met in the days before she travelled to Germany, were from the Wuhan region of China, where the virus originated.
With the death toll from the coronavirus rising, Chinese president Xi Jinping and World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus have met in Beijing to talk about how to protect foreigners and Chinese people from the illness and explore alternatives to evacuations, WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said today.
The coronavirus has killed more than 100 people in China so far, and infected over 4,500. It has spread to 13 other countries, including the US, Australia, Singapore, and Taiwan.
Americans have been advised by the US government to avoid going to China, and Facebook has told staff not to travel to the country.
A number of big car firms are planning to evacuate their employees: French automotive group PSA said it will bring home French workers from Wuhan, while Honda and Nissan said they will evacuate their Japanese staff from the city, which is at the epicentre of the virus.
At a press conference on Tuesday afternoon in Berlin, federal health minister Jens Spahn said that Germany was very well prepared to deal with the virus, and no one should panic adding, “there’s no need for excessive worry.