(Adds Hamburg, Hesse cases)
DUESSELDORF, Germany, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Six western German states reported a total of 22 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, a day after the federal health minister said the country is at the start of an epidemic.
In North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, the health ministry said 14 more people tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday in the Heinsberg area, where a couple were the first confirmed cases in the state.
The new cases took the total in the Heinsberg area to 20. Of the latest cases, all those concerned were isolated at home and did not require hospital treatment, the state’s health ministry said.
In Hamburg, the health authorities said a man had tested positive after returning from Italy, adding: “The patient is currently in stable condition in domestic isolation.”
In Hesse, home to Germany’s financial centre, Frankfurt, the authorities said another person had tested positive.
Further south, Baden-Wuerttemberg reported four new cases, taking its total to eight.
In Bavaria, the state health ministry said a man had contracted the virus who had come into contact in Germany with an Italian. The Italian tested positive on his return to Italy.
The state of Rhineland-Palatinate also said on Thursday a man there, in Kaiserslautern, had tested positive for the virus.
“The male patient is doing well so far. He’s in isolation,” Rhineland-Palatinate’s state government tweeted.
On Wednesday, the federal government’s health minister, Jens Spahn, said Germany was at the beginning of a coronavirus epidemic after new cases emerged which could no longer be traced to the virus’s original source in China.
Reporting by Matthias Inverardi; Writing by Paul Carrel, Editing by Alexandra Hudson and Grant McCool