SHARE
COPY LINK

ANGELA MERKEL

UPDATE: Merkel goes into quarantine after meeting doctor with coronavirus

Chancellor Angela Merkel will self-isolate at home after being treated by a doctor who has since tested positive for coronavirus.

UPDATE: Merkel goes into quarantine after meeting doctor with coronavirus
Anglela Merkel will go into domestic quarantine. Photo: DPA

Following a press conference on Sunday, the chancellor was told that a doctor who had given her a pneumococcal vaccination on Friday afternoon has now tested positive for COVID-19.

As a result Merkel, 65, has decided to immediately go into self-isolation, a government spokesman said.

It could take some time to determine whether the chancellor is herself infected as “a test would not yet be fully conclusive,” Steffen Seibert said in a statement. She will be tested for coronavirus in the coming days.

Merkel will continue to work from home during this time.

“The chancellor has decided to quarantine herself at home. She will be tested regularly in the coming days… (and) fulfill her official business from home,” Seibert said.

In the press conference, Merkel stated that gatherings of more than two people would be banned in Germany in a bid to stem the spread of coronavirus.

READ ALSO: Germany bans gatherings of more than two to control coronavirus spread

During her 15-year term in office Merkel has largely enjoyed robust health, although she suffered repeated shaking spells in public appearances during a summer 2019 heatwave that were never fully explained.

In response to the tremors, she chose to sit on a chair when receiving guests with military honours outside the chancellor's office in Berlin.

Previously the veteran leader broke her pelvis in a cross-country skiing accident in 2014.

The news comes after photos of Merkel shopping in a Berlin supermarket on Friday emerged.

Merkel was praised on social media for not panic buying.

It was not immediately clear whether Merkel will isolate herself in a rarely-used official residence in the top floor of the chancellery building or at her personal flat in Berlin's museum district.

If conservative leader Merkel were incapacitated, her role would be filled by vice-chancellor and finance minister Olaf Scholz of her junior coalition partners, the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD).

Scholz last week isolated himself at home with a heavy cold, but tweeted a day later that he had tested negative for the coronavirus.

Infection control

Earlier Sunday, Merkel had announced still-tighter restrictions on public gatherings after a telephone conference with regional leaders that aimed to get Germany's 16 federal states into a common policy.

The closure of schools and non-essential shops had already been announced.

Businesses like massage studios and hairdressers where people come into close contact will also be shut.

And restaurants will be closed across Germany except for takeaway food.

The measures slated to last initially for two weeks, will be imposed by individual states, which will decide when to roll them out.

Merkel appealed to citizens' “reason and empathy” in implementing the contact restrictions, saying she had been “very moved” by how closely people had stuck to less stringent measures implemented in recent days.

Economic riposte

Germany's all-out support to the economy on the cabinet agenda Monday includes hundreds of billions of euros in potential support for companies and workers.

Much of it will come in the form of state guarantees for bank loans to business and easier access to short-time working and unemployment benefits.

But Berlin also plans to blow through a constitutional rule that limits the size of the federal budget deficit in any one year, with around €156 billion in new borrowing.

Ending the crisis “comes first”, Merkel has said, adding “we will see at the end of that where our budget stands”.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

HEALTH

EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

Due to high Covid infection numbers throughout the summer, it’s now possible to get a sick note from a doctor over the phone again for some illnesses. Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

What’s happened?

In spring 2020, German authorities changed the law so that people with a mild upper respiratory tract illness, such as the common cold, were able to get an incapacity to work certificate or AU-Bescheinigung by simply calling and speaking to their GP.

The rule was extended several times and finally reversed on June 1st this year due to falling infection figures. Since then people have had to go back to the practice – or do a video call if the doctor’s office has that system in place – to get a sick note.

Now, due to a decision by the Joint Federal Committee, the regulation has been reintroduced and patients can call their GP again for a sick note.

Can I get a sick note over the phone for any illness?

No. As before, the regulation only applies to patients suffering from a mild upper respiratory tract illness. Though Covid has not explicitly been named in the announcement, it seems that it is intended to be covered by the regulation.

If the doctor is convinced that the patient is unfit for work after a telephone consultation, then they can issue a sick note for up to seven days.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The changes around doctor’s notes in Germany you should know

If the symptoms persist after seven days, the certificate can be extended once more for another week.

Why now?

According to the Chairman of the G-BA, Josef Hecken, the regulation has been introduced now as a response to rising Covid numbers and in anticipation of the cold and flu season in the coming months: “We want to avoid full waiting rooms in doctors’ offices and the emergence of new infection chains,” he said.

The telephone sick leave rule is a simple, proven and uniform nationwide solution for that, he said. The rule is also necessary because video consultation hours are not yet available everywhere.

What else should I know?

The health insurer DAK is calling for telephone sick leave in the case of light respiratory diseases to be made possible on a permanent basis in Germany. DAK’s CEO Andreas Storm said that this should “not always be up for debate, because it has proven itself.” 

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about making a doctor’s appointment in Germany

The social association VdK also welcomed the reintroduction of the rule. The VdK’s President Verena Bentele said that the regulation would help to protect high-risk groups in particular from potential infections.

What are the rules to know about sick notes in Germany?

Germany has a strict system in place. If you are sick, you need to give your employer a Krankmeldung (notification of sickness) before the start of work on the first day (of your illness).

However, you also need to hand in a Krankschreibung (doctor’s note) on the fourth day of your illness. Some employments contracts, however, require you to submit a sick not earlier than the fourth day so check with your boss or HR on that point. 

SHOW COMMENTS