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HEALTH

Germany to cover costs of coronavirus patients flown in from EU countries

Germany will foot the bill for treating novel coronavirus patients taken in from European Union neighbour countries as a gesture of goodwill, Health Minister Jens Spahn said Monday.

Germany to cover costs of coronavirus patients flown in from EU countries
Doctors receive a seriously ill coronavirus patient from France at Dresden International Airport on April 2nd. Photo: DPA

Germany has been spared the worst of the coronavirus crisis seen in some of its hard-hit European neighbours, and has taken in patients — mainly from France and Italy — to relieve pressure on their overburdened healthcare systems.

More than 200 seriously ill COVID-19 patients from other EU nations are currently in German intensive care units, at a cost of about 20 million.

A total of 229 foreign patients have been treated in Germany, a spokesman
for the foreign ministry said Monday — 130 from France, 44 from Italy and 55 from the Netherlands.

“Germany will cover the treatment costs of these patients, that is what we understand by European solidarity,” Spahn said ahead of a meeting of ministers tackling the virus crisis on Monday.

READ ALSO: German state of Saxony to take in Italian coronavirus patients

“The willingness and capacity is there to admit more if necessary,” he added.

The number of coronavirus deaths and infections in Germany has remained well below some of its neighbours.

As of Monday morning, Europe's biggest economy had over 145,000 confirmed cases and 4,624 deaths, while Spain and Italy have reported more than 20,000 deaths each. France has close to 20,000 fatalities while Britain has more than 16,000.

Germany had 28,000 intensive care beds before the start of the crisis and has since increased that number to 30,000.

Over 12,600 beds remained free Sunday according to the Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive and Emergency Medicine (DIVI).

Spahn's announcement came as many parts of Germany prepared to reopen some shops and schools on Monday after weeks of a partial lockdown which saw most non-essential businesses in the Bundesrepublik close.

The health minister said Friday the pandemic was “under control”.

READ ALSO: Germany starts to slowly open up as coronavirus deemed 'under control'

 

Member comments

  1. Thank you Germany. But the damage has already been done. When Italy was at the very peak of the crisis, all EU nations including Germany abandoned them even if they had spare capacity.

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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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