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Austria's Kurz, ministers test negative for COVID-19 after scare

FILE PHOTO: Austria's Chancellor Sebastian Kurz arrives on the second day of a European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium October 2, 2020. Olivier Matthys/Pool via REUTERS

VIENNA (Reuters) - Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and much of his staff and cabinet have tested negative for the coronavirus after an unidentified close colleague of Kurz’s tested positive on Monday, the chancellor’s office said.

Kurz’s office said on Monday afternoon that he and Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler had cancelled all appointments for the day and were being tested after the unidentified colleague whom they last saw on Wednesday was found to have been infected. That colleague had tested negative on Tuesday evening.

Austria’s cabinet meets on Wednesday mornings. Ministers who attended last week’s meeting were also tested, with several saying on Monday that they too had cancelled their appointments pending the results.

“The chancellor, the vice chancellor and the whole government team have tested negative,” Kurz’s office said in a statement issued early on Tuesday.

“However, in the course of the series of tests an additional colleague tested positive,” the statement said, adding that that person was on the staff of junior minister Magnus Brunner in the environment and transport ministry.

Anyone who has recently been in close contact with either of the people who have tested positive should self-isolate, Kurz’s office said. That was not the case for Kurz and he would resume work at his office, though meetings would be “above all by telephone and video”, it added.

Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Kim Coghill