German president and his wife test positive for COVID-19

BERLIN (AP) — German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has tested positive for COVID-19, the head of state’s office said Tuesday, as the country’s infection rate remains persistently high.

Steinmeier’s wife, Elke Buedenbender, also tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday, the president’s office said. Both have mild symptoms and immediately went into isolation.

Steinmeier has been Germany’s president, which is a largely ceremonial role but carries moral authority, since 2017. Before that, he served twice as Chancellor Angela Merkel’s foreign minister and was chief of staff to her predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder.

He was elected to a second five-year term in February.

Germany is currently in the process of removing most of its coronavirus restrictions despite a continuing surge in infections. On Tuesday, the national disease control center said that more than 222,000 new cases were reported over the previous 24 hours, along with 264 deaths — bringing Germany’s total since the pandemic began to 127,193.

The nationwide infection rate stood at 1,733.4 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days. That was up from 1,585.4 a week ago.

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