A year ago on Jan. 27 German supplier Webasto became the first company in Germany to publicly confront the coronavirus after learning that a Chinese employee from Shanghai unknowingly brought the virus to the company’s headquarters in Stockdorf, outside Munich.
Webasto, a maker of sunroofs, polycarbonate moldings and lithium-ion battery packs, informed German health authorities on Jan. 27, that the employee had received a positive test for the virus the day before.
The company took immediate steps to contain it that included closing its Stockdorf offices and determining which employees had contact with the employee.
"After the initial shock we were able to break the chain of infection by taking courageous decisions, implementing consistent measures," CEO Holger Engelmann said in a press release.
The initial outbreak infected 11 employees, nine in Germany and two in China. All of them recovered.
The coronavirus continues to impact daily activities at Webasto.
"There have unfortunately been positive tests among our workforce time and again — particularly in Europe and the U.S.," Engelmann said, adding that most of those employees have become infected outside of the office.
"So far, we have the occurrence of infection at the company under good control," he said. "With the help of all employees and the approval of those infected, we are continuing to announce their names internally in order to be able to identify other potential contacts as quickly as possible."
He said travel restrictions remain in place, "comprehensive hygiene concepts apply worldwide," and that in many countries Webasto employees are working from home.
Englemann, who plans to get vaccinated as soon possible, urged people to take the virus seriously.
"Even though I may not agree with every political decision taken during the coronavirus crisis, I still have no sympathy with those who question all of the measures and fail to comply with the respective guidelines," he said. "We will only overcome the pandemic by being consistent, considerate and having solidarity. Until we are able to achieve a broad level of vaccine protection for the population, everyone must make his or her contribution to contact tracing."