Coronavirus death toll in Germany rises as new measures come into force

The number of deaths linked to coronavirus in Germany continued to rise on Monday.

Coronavirus death toll in Germany rises as new measures come into force
n illuminated window is seen at an apartment block in Dortmund, western Germany, on March 22, 2020 during the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. PHOTO: AFP

The public health agency the Robert Koch Institute announced on Monday morning that the number of deaths had risen from 55 on Sunday to 86 on Monday.

It warned, however, that the real number was likely much higher, in part because some regional health authorities had not submitted their figures.

Separate reports from German media put the death toll at over 100.

In terms of the number of confirmed cases in the country, the Institute reported 22,672 on Monday, up from 18,610 the previous day. Yet other estimates placed the number of confirmed cases at over 26,000.

Germany's death toll from coronavirus is still well below that of neighbouring France, which on Sunday rose to 674, with 224 fatalities over the weekend.

In Italy, the country in Europe that is the hardest hit by the virus, there has been almost 5,500 deaths after 2,000 fatalities were reported since Friday.

Coronavirus deaths in Spain now top 1,700.

READ ALSO: What explains the low death rate in Germany?

On Sunday, Germany announced new measures aimed at slowing down the spread of the virus in the hope of preventing a steep rise in the number of deaths.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday that gatherings of more than two people – outside of family members and those living together – will be banned in public to control the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“Our own behaviour is the most effective way” of slowing the rate of infection, Merkel said of the unprecedented nationwide measures, which are initially slated to remain in force for two weeks.

The new restrictions were agreed on by Merkel and the leaders of Germany's 16 states in a telephone conference on Sunday. 

“Staying in public places is only permitted alone, with another person not living in the household or with members of one's own household,” their resolution stated.

The stricter measures are intended to prevent a rapid spread of the virus so that the health care system will not be overloaded and intensive care beds in hospitals remain free for seriously ill persons infected by the virus.

According to Merkel, people in Germany are required to reduce contact with other people outside the members of their own household to an absolutely necessary minimum. 

READ ALSO: Germany bans gatherings of more than two as coronavirus measures come into effect

In public, wherever possible, a minimum distance of at least 1.5 metres must be maintained from people other than relatives from their own household.

A few German states, such as Bavaria, Saarland and Saxony, have announced stricter curfews in which leaving the house is only allowed for necessary tasks.

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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.