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COVID-19

German toilet paper calculator takes aim at coronavirus panic-buying

The coronavirus pandemic has sent panicked shoppers across Europe into a toilet-paper buying frenzy. But how much do you really need? And what to do if the unthinkable happens and you run out?

German toilet paper calculator takes aim at coronavirus panic-buying
File photo shows a man carrying lots of toilet paper. Photo: DPA

A German online calculator is here to help. At www.blitzrechner.de/toilettenpapier, curious users can work out how long their stockpile will last.

Just type in how many rolls you have and your individual “usage behaviour” and the calculator will tell you for how many days you'll be covered.

READ ALSO: What's the latest on coronavirus in Germany and what do I need to know?

For true aficionados, there is an expert mode where you can add the length of your quarantine and your average number of sheets per wipe.

Generally speaking, people tend to wildly overestimate their TP needs, the website says.

“Many people use more toilet paper than needed. For a 'number one', one or two sheets should suffice,” it adds.

The website also offers some suggested alternatives to toilet paper should the supermarket shelves be bare.

READ ALSO: German word of the day: Der Hamsterkauf

Washcloths, strips of old rags and even a quick shower are all good options. But be careful not to flush kitchen roll as it could clog up the toilet.

Germany, like many European countries, has seen demand for toilet paper spiral since the start of the outbreak.

Similar tongue-in-cheek stockpiling calculators have sprung up in other countries too, like the UK site Howmuchtoiletpaper.com.

Videos of scuffles in supermarkets have been circulating widely on social media – one argument over toilet paper in a supermarket in Mannheim last week even ended in a fistfight that required police intervention.

Chancellor Angela Merkel set a better example when she was photographed doing her weekly shop last Friday with just one pack of toilet paper in her trolley – and four bottles of wine.

That's just how Merkel rolls.

 

 

 

 

 

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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. 

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