More tests to flu shots: How Germany plans to improve its coronavirus response

More tests to flu shots: How Germany plans to improve its coronavirus response
Jens Spahn (CDU) discussing the proposed health measures in response to the coronavirus outbreak on Wednesday in Berlin. Photo: DPA
More tests, more support for employees, more precautions ahead of the next flu season: Germany wants to introduce further aid measures this Wednesday to cushion the consequences of the coronavirus crisis.

Several government ministries are introducing plans to soften the health and economic impact caused by coronavirus. A proposed package prepared by Health Minister Jens Spahn from Angela Merkel's centre-right conservatives (CDU) calls for more comprehensive reporting obligations for doctors and laboratories.

On the financial front, Labour Minister Hubertus Heil of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) wants to implement a package of crisis measures, including a temporary increase in short-time work benefits (Kurzarbeit) for longer-term employment.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus in Germany – who will receive financial help, and how much?

Here’s an overview of some of the top proposals which are expected to be given the green light on Wednesday.

Testing: Laboratories all over Germany have been evaluating hundreds of thousands of coronavirus tests over several weeks, or around 500,000 a week.

Now Spahn is calling for even more widespread testing, which will be paid for by Germany’s public health insurance funds. Part of the plan includes mass screenings for nursing staff and people in need of care.

READ ALSO: '200,000 tests a day': Germany pushes to expand coronavirus testing

Duty notifications: Laboratories and physicians will not only be required to report suspected cases, confirmed cases and deaths related to Covid-19 to health authorities, but also negative test results and cases of recoveries.

Right now the latter two are calculated largely just through self-reporting, but not an official tally. The aim is to gain a better overview of the development of the epidemic.

Photo: DPA

Care: The government wants to divvy up the costs of a coronavirus bonus for nursing staff of up to 1,500: one-third is to be paid by the states and employers, two-thirds by the nursing insurance funds (Pflegekassen).

Flu prevention: For the upcoming flu season in the winter of 2020/2021, the government is planning for a larger reserve of vaccines for the common influenza.

“To care for many flu and corona patients at the same time could overtax our health system,” Spahn told the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung” on Wednesday.

For the first time, the federal government is also directly purchasing an additional 4.5 million doses of influenza vaccine.

Employees: Labour Minister Heil will present a package of laws to help employees in the crisis. Among other things, according to a resolution of the coalition leaders, the short-time work (Kurzarbeit) allowance is slated to be increased for longer periods of time, and to up to 80 percent of the last net wage. For people with children, that figure rises up to 87 percent. 

So far, the figure is 60 and 67 percent, respectively. Unemployment benefits are also to be made available for much longer.

READ ALSO: Kurzarbeit: Germany bets on tried-and-tested tool in coronavirus jobs crisis

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