In Brief: German Health Minister tests positive for the coronavirus

Jens Spahn tweeted he was isolating at home and exhibiting only cold symptoms.

Photo by Parastoo Diba on Unsplash

 

Updated on Thursday, Oct. 22 at 10:00 a.m

By Monika Müller-Kroll, Sylvia Cunningham and Kate Brady

German Health Minister Jens Spahn has tested positive for the coronavirus, his ministry announced.

Shortly before his diagnosis on Wednesday, Spahn attended a cabinet meeting in Berlin, where he was seen wearing a mask.

A government spokesman said neither Chancellor Angela Merkel nor her other cabinet members will go into quarantine as they were following social distancing and other hygiene requirements.

In the evening, Spahn tweeted he was isolating at home and exhibiting only cold symptoms.

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About 150 police officers raided six locations in Berlin-Kreuzberg on Wednesday, including a mosque, in connection with an investigation into pandemic-related fraud.

Berlin’s public prosecutor’s office tweeted three people are suspected of illegally applying for and securing coronavirus emergency aid amounting to nearly 70,000 euros.

Officers said they confiscated about 7,000 euros and various documents during the raids.

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The organizer of Berlin-Mitte’s popular Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market has called the event off this holiday season.

He told the German daily, Die Welt, that there is an “incalculable health and economic risk due to the development of COVID-19.”

In neighboring Potsdam, the mayor also canceled the city’s hallmark “Blauer Lichterglanz” market, citing the current infection rate. The seven-day incidence rate there was 35.5 new infections per 100,000 residents Wednesday, still significantly lower than Berlin’s rate of 104.4.

But elsewhere in Berlin and across the country, many local leaders and market organizers are still trying to find ways to allow the season of Glühwein to proceed, albeit with some pandemic rules in place.

In the German capital, those include a masking requirement as well as limiting the number of visitors at peak hours and requiring plastic partitions be installed to separate booth staff from customers, according to the Berlin daily, Der Tagesspiegel.

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Berlin police are investigating what’s being called one of the biggest acts of vandalism on artifacts in Germany’s post-war history.

It’s not yet clear whether the date of the attack earlier this month — German Unity Day — was a coincidence.

More than 60 artifacts and antiquities were sprayed with an oily liquid at locations across Berlin’s Museum Island on Oct. 3. The works of art include Egyptian sarcophagi, stone sculptures and 19th century paintings.

Culture Minister Monika Grütters said in a statement that there’s “hope the damage can be repaired” but added Berlin museum officials need to answer questions about their security protocol.

Authorities have urged members of the public who visited the museums on Oct. 3, to come forward if they saw any suspicious behavior.

This news is brought to you in cooperation with Berliner Rundfunk.  

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