UPDATE: Germany reports first two coronavirus deaths
Two people have died of the novel coronavirus in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, officials said Monday, the country's first casualties of the outbreak.
In the city of Essen, an 89-year-old woman who had been diagnosed with the virus on March 3rd died from pneumonia.
In the district of Heinsberg, which has become a coronavirus hotspot after an infected couple attended carnival festivities there, a 78-year-old man died of heart failure.
Like the elderly woman, the man suffered from pre-existing conditions including diabetes and heart problems.
He was hospitalised on Friday, Heinsberg district administrator Stephan Pusch told reporters, adding that he was "moved and saddened" by the death.
Essen mayor Thomas Kufen meanwhile issued a statement offering his condolences to the woman's family and friends.
"I regret this death very much," he said.
Both Essen and Heinsberg are located in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous state which has 515 confirmed coronavirus cases out of a total of 1,167 countrywide as at Monday afternoon.
A total of 323 cases have been reported in Heinsberg alone, 15 of them currently in hospital.
The number of people testing positive for the coronavirus on Monday passed 1,000 in Europe's top economy Germany.
The first death of a German national from the coronavirus was reported on Sunday evening.
The 60-year-old man had tested positive for the virus after he was hospitalized in Egypt - which he had entered a week prior - with a high fever. It has not yet clear where the man, who was in the country on holidays, had initially become infected.
Germany has suffered a comparatively light toll in relation to European Union neighbours, namely in hard-hit Italy, where 366 people have died of the virus and there are thousands of confirmed cases.
"Here in Germany we are ahead in diagnostics, in detection," Christian Drosten, director of the Institute for Virology at Berlin's Charite hospital said earlier Monday in the capital.
"The most effective tool against coronavirus is the time factor, slowing down its spread and spreading it over a longer period of time," Chancellor Angela Merkel said.
She also reiterated government advice on measures such as avoiding bodily contact to reduce the risk of transmitting the disease.