Wolfsburg’s Weghorst apologizes for playing down virus fears

WOLFSBURG, Germany (AP) — Dutch striker Wout Weghorst apologized on Monday for appearing to make light of the coronavirus in a social media post.

Weghorst was trending on Twitter in Germany due to his Instagram story in which he seemed to endorse a message saying, “Imagine a vaccine so safe you have to be threatened to take it — for a disease so deadly you have to be tested to know you have it.”

Weghorst added, “THIS!!! People inform yourself,” prompting a backlash on social media.

Weghorst deleted the story and apologized for any hurt or upset he may have caused.

“I know many people who have been infected with the coronavirus, and therefore I know exactly what its effects are and how dangerous it can be,” Weghorst wrote. “I merely wanted to point out that with this issue, as with all others in general, you should educate yourself as much as possible and listen to as many different opinions as possible.”

Weghorst, one of the Bundesliga’s top scorers, plays for Wolfsburg, which has had four positive cases among its players. Kevin Mbabu, Renato Steffen, Josip Brekalo and Marin Pongracic all tested positive for COVID-19 since the outbreak began.

Steffen is still suffering side effects including a loss of taste weeks after his infection.

“You can tell that something was happening in the body. You can tell that there’s still something, even if you don’t have symptoms,” Steffen told radio station NDR2 in a podcast. “Every now and then you feel weak or have days in which it is more difficult to breathe.”

Former Germany goalkeeper Jens Lehmann, a board member at Hertha Berlin, prompted a social media backlash on Saturday when he seemed to play down the risk of the coronavirus by comparing it to flu. He deleted the Tweet.

Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann said on Friday that South Korea forward Hwang Hee-chan felt “almost dead” for a week when he was infected with the virus.

Germany’s central disease control center on Monday reported 16,362 new confirmed cases — about 4,000 more than a week before. The Robert Koch Institute reported 188 new deaths, bringing the country’s death toll to more than 22,000.

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

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