BERLIN (Reuters) – The leader of the state of Bavaria, a possible successor to Angela Merkel as the conservative candidate for chancellor, apologised on Thursday for a coronavirus bungle that meant some 900 people who had tested positive were not told about it.
Problems with data entry meant that 44,000 travellers returning to Bavaria had been waiting for their test results for days. Around 900 of those were positive.
State health authorities said on Thursday they were now in the process of informing people, but were still having problems tracking some down.
The tests had been carried out up to two weeks ago at special centres, opened with great fanfare in the southern state.
“It is really extremely galling. We can only apologise,” state premier Markus Soeder told reporters, promising to fix the mistakes by adding extra staff. He also said he supported his health minister who had offered to resign.
Germany has managed to keep the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths relatively low compared to other European countries but there are concerns about a possible second wave of the pandemic.
In the last two days, it has recorded the biggest daily increase in new infections since early May, prompting the health minister to warn of outbreaks all over the country.
Southern Bavaria has been hard hit but Soeder’s tough line on coronavirus restrictions boosted his approval ratings.
Some conservatives see him as the best candidate to run for the chancellorship in next year’s election, succeeding Merkel who has said she will not stand for a fifth term. Soeder has so far said he will stay in Bavaria.
(Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Frances Kerry)