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German man who never visited China catches coronavirus through human-to-human transmission


Germany has declared its first confirmed case of the coronavirus after a 33-year-old man contracted it from a colleague visiting his workplace from Shanghai, in one of the first cases of person-to-person transmission outside China.

The case raises concerns about the spread of the flu-like virus that broke out in the central Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of last year and has killed 106 people and infected more than 2,800 people.

It spreads in droplets from coughs and sneezes and has an incubation period of 1-14 days.

Bavaria’s health ministry said late on Monday that a man in the southern German state was suffering from the virus and was in “good condition” while isolated under medical observation.

German car parts supplier Webasto on Tuesday said an employee at its headquarters in Stockdorf, Bavaria, had become infected following the visit of an employee from China.

A day earlier it said an employee from Shanghai tested positive for the virus upon returning to China.

Confirmation of any sustained human-to-human spread of the virus outside of China, as well as any documented deaths, would bolster the case for reconvening the World Health Organisation’s Emergency Committee to consider again whether to declare a public health emergency of international concern.

The independent panel last week twice declined to declare an international emergency.

In response to the episode, Germany plans to require travelers arriving from China to provide airlines with contact details, including where they are staying while in the country, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Tuesday.

The step will ensure the authorities can get in touch with people who may have come into contact with infected people. Airlines will need to keep the details for 30 days, he said.

Outside of China there have now been 45 confirmed cases in 13 countries, with no deaths so far, the WHO’s spokesman Christian Lindmeier told a briefing in Geneva on Tuesday.

The WHO said a case in Vietnam involved human-to-human transmission outside China and a Japanese official has said there was a suspected case of human-to-human transmission there too.


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