Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 30 May 2020

Coronavirus: German minister dies by suicide over economic fears

Thomas Schaefer was working ‘day and night’ to support those affected by the outbreak

The body of Hesse finance minister Thomas Schaefer was found near railway tracks. EPA
The body of Hesse finance minister Thomas Schaefer was found near railway tracks. EPA

A German state finance minister appears to have died by suicide after becoming “deeply worried” about the economic consequences of the coronavirus outbreak.

The body of Thomas Schaefer, 54, the finance chief of the central Hesse state, was found near railway tracks.

Local prosecutors say they believe he took his own life.

While Germany has reported more than 58,000 cases of coronavirus, fewer than 500 people have died after becoming infected with the virus.

But that hasn’t stopped the country suffering the effects of the economic fallout from the pandemic.

"We are in shock, we are in disbelief and above all we are immensely sad," said state leader Volker Bouffier.

Schaefer worked “day and night” to support companies affected by the pandemic, he said.

Both men belonged to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party.

"Today we have to assume that he was deeply worried," said Mr Bouffier.

"It's precisely during this difficult time that we would have needed someone like him."

Hesse state is home to Frankfurt, Germany’s finance capital, as well as major lenders such as Deutsche Bank.

Elsewhere, officials in Berlin suggested seriously ill people such as those suspected of suffering strokes or heart attacks could be avoiding hospital’s because of fears they may contract the virus.

Health officials in Berlin are calling on the chronically ill and people with symptoms of strokes or heart attacks not to avoid seeking necessary medical treatment during the coronavirus crisis.

Berlin’s state health ministry said local medical centres that treat stroke victims were reporting a significant decline in stroke patients.

They said not seeking treatment may be more dangerous than the “relatively small probability” of being infected with coronavirus when visiting a doctor or hospital.

Berlin had 2,337 confirmed cases of the virus, including nine deaths, as of Saturday.

Updated: March 30, 2020 09:14 AM

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