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HEALTH

‘No significant risk’ of catching coronavirus from Euro banknotes

There is no significant risk of catching the coronavirus from euro banknotes, the European Central Bank said Tuesday, citing lab tests that showed the germs survived far longer on other surfaces.

'No significant risk' of catching coronavirus from Euro banknotes
Photo: DPA

Cash is still widely used in the 19-nation eurozone but many shops and businesses have asked customers to switch to cards or contactless payments to avoid handling bills possibly touched by an infected person.

In a blog post, ECB executive board member Fabio Panetta said tests by European labs showed that the survival rate of coronaviruses is “10 to 100 higher” on a stainless steel surface, like a door handle, than on euro banknotes in the first few hours after contamination.

“Other analyses indicate that it is much more difficult for a virus to be transferred from porous surfaces such as cotton banknotes than from smooth surfaces like plastic,” Panetta said.

Euro notes are printed on pure cotton-fibre paper, which helps make them resistant to wear and tear.

READ ALSO: New €100 and €200 notes go into circulation in Germany

“Overall, banknotes do not represent a particularly significant risk of infection compared with other kinds of surface that people come into contact with in daily life,” Panetta wrote.

In China, the central bank announced in February that it was using ultraviolet rays to disinfect banknotes in a bid to curb the outbreak.

Panetta's blog did not mention whether any tests had been done into the contamination risks when using euro coins.

More than 340 million people across the continent use the euro currency.

Cash remains the dominant mode of payment for eurozone consumers, the ECB said, accounting for three quarters of transactions.

It is especially popular in large countries like Germany, Italy and Spain.

Demand for cash has been “less predictable” during the coronavirus crisis, Panetta said, with some people hoarding money at home while others are spending less because of the lockdowns.

Coronavirus concerns have pushed customers across Germany to make the switch to using contactless payment.

More than half of payments are currently being made by card are contactless, compared with 35 percent before the coronavirus crisis hit according to the German Credit Agency (DK).

 

 

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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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