German Chancellor Angela Merkel tests negative for coronavirus

Merkel’s contact with a coronavirus-positive doctor was only brief, says chief of staff.

Merkel - reuters
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has banned gatherings of two or more people to try and stem the spread of coronavirus [Michel Kappeler/Pool/Reuters]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has tested negative for coronavirus, a German government spokesperson said.

Earlier on Monday, her Chief of Staff Helge Braun said Merkel only had brief contact with a doctor who later tested positive for coronavirus.

Merkel had on Friday afternoon received a vaccine shot against pneumococcus, a pneumonia-causing bacteria, from the doctor and went into quarantine on Sunday after learning of his positive test result.

Merkel, 65, will be tested repeatedly over the next few days.

Merkel has said she will not seek a fifth term as chancellor in federal elections due by October 2021.

She has loomed large on the European stage since 2005, helping guide the European Union through the eurozone crisis and opening Germany’s doors to migrants and refugees fleeing war in the Middle East in 2015, a move that still divides the bloc and her country.

Before going into quarantine on Sunday, Merkel said in a televised news briefing that Germany would ban public meetings of more than two people, amid a large number of further measures.

“The great aim is to gain time in the fight against the virus,” she said, citing an agreement between the federal government and regional states.

Lockdown tightens

For at least the next two weeks, people will not be allowed to form groups of three or more in public unless they live together in the same household, or the gathering is work-related, she added.

Restaurants can only serve patrons via takeaway, while hairdressers and beauty, massage and tattoo parlours must close.

Governments in Europe, the epicentre of the global pandemic, have escalated their emergency responses amid a rising death toll.

Italy banned travel within the country after freezing non-essential business activity. Spain wants to extend until April 11 a state of emergency it imposed this month.

Regional states in Germany had previously taken differing approaches in the fight against the virus. Bavaria and smaller Saarland had gone furthest, imposing restrictions to keep people inside their homes save for a number of work-related exceptions.

“We are reducing public life and social interaction further and we are making sure to impose the same rules in principle across Germany,” Merkel said.

Source: News Agencies