BERLIN — German authorities say a Catholic priest who came into contact with many people during church services in several cities has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.
The dpa news agency reported Friday that health authorities in the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania said the priest was involved in services in Demmin, Stralsund and Grimmen, among other places.
Regional church authorities said on their website that all church services in Demmin and Stralsung were being called off until June 21 while authorities seek out anyone who had contact with the priest. So far one other person has tested positive for the virus and many others are still awaiting the results.
Results for 130 tests are expected by Saturday at the latest and so far 12 people have been told to isolate themselves at home as a precaution.
Meanwhilem Germany’s foreign minister has told his Italian counterpart that Berlin is determined to leave no European country behind as the continent tries to recover from the economic damage of the coronavirus crisis.
The two sought to put tensions from the early phases of the pandemic in Europe behind them. Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio — making his first trip abroad since the lockdown — thanked Germany for having agreed to take in 40 critical patients to help relieve pressure on Italy’s overloaded intensive care units.
During the first weeks of Italy’s outbreak, both national and local authorities complained at what they said was a lack of EU solidarity in Italy’s time of need. The leader of hard-hit Lombardy at one point wrote a letter to the German health minister challenging him to make good on promises to help out by freeing up for export German-made ICU machines and protective equipment.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said it’s true in retrospect of Germany and others that “some things could have been more quickly and less bureaucratically.” But he focused on the future, pledging solidarity in the economic restart.
Maas said: “We built Europe as it is together, so we are firmly determined now not to leave any country in Europe behind – particularly those that were hit particularly hard by the pandemic.”