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BRAUNSCHWEIG

German 101-year-old sneaks out of nursing home amid coronavirus lockdown

A 101-year-old woman crept out of an old people's home in a bid to get to visit her daughter on her birthday, German police said Tuesday.

German 101-year-old sneaks out of nursing home amid coronavirus lockdown
File photo: DPA

Officers intercepted her after she had escaped via an emergency exit at the home in Lower Saxony, northern Germany.

Brunswick police said they were called out after the elderly woman lost her way in her search for her daughter's house in a suburb.

Although she claimed that she lived with her daughter, officers suspected the truth.

When they brought her to the house, the daughter explained that her mother had moved into the old people's home only two weeks before and had been “missing her daughter terribly”.

Police said the elderly woman was able to see her daughter – from the safety of the patrol car's window – before they brought her back to the home.

Germany has been under nationwide lockdown for more than two weeks, with gatherings of more than two people in public banned and most businesses and institutions closed.

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

Old people's homes have been closed to visitors to limit the spread of infection to their vulnerable residents.

Last week, Brunswick prosecutors confirmed they were investigating an old people's home in Wolfsburg, after 22 people died there following coronavirus infections.

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

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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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