A man confirmed as Germany’s first case of the new virus that emerged in central China is believed to have been infected by a Chinese colleague who visited his workplace, authorities said.
Another three cases were confirmed later today, all connected to the first.
The 33-year-old man from the Starnberg area south of Munich was in isolation at a Munich hospital as a precaution, officials in Bavaria said. However, they stressed that his condition is good.
The man took part last Tuesday in a training session at his workplace that also included an employee of the same company visiting from China, said Andreas Zapf, the head of Bavaria’s office for health and food safety.
The woman, who had not previously shown any symptoms, flew home on Thursday and went to a doctor after feeling ill on the flight, Mr Zapf said.
She then tested positive for the new virus. The woman lives in Shanghai, but had been visited a few days earlier by her parents, who come from the worst-affected Wuhan area.
On Monday, the German company was informed of the positive test, and it notified authorities and employees.
An employee who had been at the training session came forward and said he had experienced bronchitis-like symptoms over the weekend, though they had receded and he came to work on Monday.
Authorities decided when they received positive test results on Monday evening to admit him to a hospital and put him in isolation for monitoring.
Auto parts supplier Webasto confirmed that it was the company involved and that the man works at its headquarters in Stockdorf, south of Munich.
It cancelled all travel to and from China for the next two weeks and said employees at Stockdorf are free to work from home this week.
Later today, Bavaria’s state health ministry said another three cases of the virus had been confirmed and all were employees of the same company, news agency dpa reported.
Authorities decided to admit those patients to the same Munich hospital, where they were in isolation.
Authorities did not immediately give further details of the three new cases.
Germany is the second European country to report confirmed cases of the virus. Authorities in France confirmed three cases in recent days — all Chinese citizens who recently travelled there.
The new type of coronavirus has infected thousands of people in China. Nearly all of the cases outside China are among people who recently arrived from there.