• The volunteer fire chief explained that he "didn't want to be the laughing stock..."
  • Merkel placed herself in self-isolation last week after learning that the doctor who vaccinated her against pneumonia had tested positive for the coronavirus.
  • The German government has received international praise for its rapid efforts to tackle the outbreak.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories .

A German firefighter hung up on Angela Merkel after she tried to congratulate him for his efforts during the coronavirus outbreak, because he believed that she was a prank caller.

The German Chancellor was forced to twice phone a volunteer fire brigade in her constituency and thank them for their efforts during the coronavirus outbreak, after the first call was quickly terminated.

At around 7pm on Monday, Merkel called to thank the Bergen Fire Brigade in Rugen, north-east Germany, who have placed themselves in voluntary isolation during the coronavirus outbreak, the newspaper Nordkurier reported.

But when the brigade's fire chief Andr Muswieck picked up the phone to the chancellor, he assumed he was being pranked by a radio station and promptly hung up.

"I didn't want to be the laughing stock of [German radio journalist] Leif Tennemann and I ended the conversation immediately," he told the Nordkurier.

The chancellor was undeterred, however, and called back shortly afterwards, at which point the firemen realised he wasn't being pranked and the entire team joined the call.

Merkel then thanked the volunteer firefighters, who have been in isolation for two weeks at their fire station, away from their families, in order to ensure they can keep responding to emergency calls.

If one of the firemen was to test positive for the coronavirus, the entire team would have to enter quarantine and stop working, the Nordkurier reported.

Merkel placed herself in self-isolation last week after learning that the doctor who vaccinated her against pneumonia had tested positive for the coronavirus, multiple outlets including NPR reported .

She told the firefighters that her first test for the coronavirus had been returned negative and said another one had been scheduled, according to the report.

The German government has received global praise for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak, where widespread testing and a high number of intensive care beds have been credited with the health care system being less overwhelmed than countries like Italy.

Approval ratings for Merkel's centre-right coalition government have risen considerably since the outbreak began. They now enjoy approval ratings of 32 to 35%, according to German newspaper The Local , up 7 points from a few weeks ago.

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