Merkel urges vigilance as officials probe restaurant virus outbreak

Health officials in north-western Germany pursuing an investigation into a coronavirus outbreak at a restaurant in Lower Saxony on Monday, as the number of people testing positive rose.

Seven people initially tested positive for coronavirus after visiting the Alte Scheune restaurant in Moormerland, a municipality in the district of Leer in the north-western state, earlier this month.

That number had increased to 14 by Sunday, four additional cases of people who had contracted the since then  also reported.

A total of 118 people have been placed under quarantine at home, up from an initial 50.

Regional authorities in Leer district said it was likely that the four additional infections had occurred following visits to the restaurant.

The outbreak is the first to have taken place in a restaurant since they allowed to reopen in stages across Germany’s 16 from 9.

Chancellor Angela Merkel called on the governments of Germany’s to be “courageous and watchful” as they ease restrictions imposed since mid-March to contain the .

Speaking through her spokesman Steffen Seibert, Merkel backed continuing “binding instructions” on social distancing, restriction of contact and hygiene rules.

Recommendations were insufficient, Seibert said, as federal officials continued discussions with their state-level counterparts on how to proceed with further easing.

The number of cases of the novel coronavirus had risen to more than 178,500 by Monday morning, according to figures from the individual  compiled by dpa.

At least 8,252 people diagnosed with the Sars-CoV-2 pathogen have died, up from 8,229 on Sunday morning. (dpa/NAN)