The Health Minister of the Federal Republic of Germany, Jens Spahn, one of the most active politicians in the fight against the virus, now has COVID-19. In the morning, he took part in a cabinet meeting.
Berlin, October 21st, 2020 (The Berlin Spectator) — For 268 days, Jens Spahn, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s youngest Minister — he just turned 40 — has been fighting the Coronavirus, as the politician in charge of matters of this kind. He was hyperactive, he took decisions, made mistakes, learned from them and contributed a lot to improving Germany’s anti-Corona strategy and keeping the infection numbers down for a while.
First Positive Minister
While doing it all, he remained calm and kept on reassuring the nation. Also he relentlessly reminded 83 million Germans and other residents to adhere to the Corona rules, over and over again. Now he became the first Federal Minister to test positive for the virus he is fighting, meaning he will have to fight it in more than one way now.
According to the Health Ministry in Berlin’s Friedrichstrasse, Mr. Spahn has cold symptoms at this stage. He tested positive in the early afternoon. Shortly before, he had taken part in a cabinet meeting. But, according to a government spokesman, the other participants do not have to go into quarantine.
Contact Persons Alerted
He said the hygiene and contact rules had been adhered to. Those meetings were conducted in a way that made quarantines unnecessary even in a situation like this one. At the Chancellery, the cabinet convenes on a weekly basis. The large conference room it uses is equipped with a giant round table. Chancellor Merkel and the Ministers have plenty of room.
Television footage from this morning showed Spahn as he was sitting at that table, with a protective mask over his nose and mouth. At this stage, all persons Minister Spahn was in contact with in the past days are being informed, the Health Ministry said. Angela Merkel and the Ministers are among them, but they already know.
Several Close Calls
During this crisis, the Chancellor herself has been in quarantine, because her doctor had tested positive for Corona. This happened early on, in March. On Saturday, Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier went into quarantine because of an infected body guard. The same happened to Foreign Minister Heiko Maas some three weeks ago.
Commerce Minister Peter Altmeier has been in quarantine. Labor Minister Hubertus Heil is in this situation right now. What all of this means is that there have been several close calls, but Spahn is the first Minister to test positive for Corona.
At this stage, it is unclear whether Spahn will work from home, or who will replace him until he recovers. An undersecretary might take over for a while.