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.

UPDATE: Germany reports first two coronavirus deaths
A sign for the district of Heinsberg. Photo: DPA

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.

READ ALSO: What's the latest on coronavirus in Germany and what do I need to know?

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.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus: The everyday precautions to take if you're in Germany


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‘People liked the silence’: How Berlin’s club scene is struggling after lockdowns

Berlin's clubs are suffering from staff shortages, a lack of guests... and neighbours who've grown used to the silence, representatives for the scene say.

'People liked the silence': How Berlin's club scene is struggling after lockdowns

Some operators from Berlin’s club scene are bracing themselves for a difficult autumn. For months now, people have been allowed to dance again and life has returned to normal in the dark corners of Berlin’s famous nightlife scene.

But the clubs have far from recovered from the pandemic. They face staff shortages, rising prices and the prospect of a return to Covid restrictions in the autumn.

“We go into the autumn with huge fear, because the omens are totally unfavorable,” said association head Pamela Schobeß.

Spring and summer went anything but smoothly, she said. “There has been an oversupply of events. People aren’t going out as much, and some are still afraid to move around indoors.”

Money is also an issue. “A lot of people are afraid of rising energy prices.”

The industry lost workers during the pandemic and it’s hard to convince them to come back with the outlook for the autumn looking so gloomy, Schobeß says.

Her colleague Robin Schellenberg tells a similar story. People have switched to various other jobs and would even rather work on a supermarket checkout, which may have been considered less sexy in the past. Now, he says, some have learned to love not having to work nights.


Schellenberg runs the Klunkerkranich, a small club on a parking garage deck in Neukölln. Because a number of things have become more expensive, they have also had to increase their admission prices.

His impression is that people are going out less often and are deciding more spontaneously. In addition, people in the neighborhood are now more sensitive to noise. “Many people found the silence very enticing,” he said.

Some in the industry wonder what will happen next. Will club admission have to become much more expensive? Will that exclude people who can no longer afford it? And what happens if Covid infection numbers rise sharply?

If masks become mandatory indoors in October, Schobeß believes that would be bad for the clubs. “Even if we don’t get shut down by the state, we’ll actually have to close down independently ourselves,” she reckons.

Masks take all the joy out of the experience, she says. People have drinks in their hands and are “jumping around and dancing” and then security guards have to tell them “please put your mask on.”

The federal government is considering whether states should be able to make masks mandatory indoors starting in October. Exceptions should be possible, such as at cultural and sporting events, for people who have been tested, recently vaccinated and recently recovered.

In the event that Covid numbers soar, the states could then be allowed to tighten the rules and eliminate all exemptions.

READ ALSO: German court declares techno to be music