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HEALTH

Dozens infected with coronavirus at Frankfurt mass

More than 40 people were infected with the new coronavirus after attending a mass in Frankfurt earlier this month.

Dozens infected with coronavirus at Frankfurt mass
Photo: DPA

Six people were admitted to hospital, local health authorities told the news agency DPA.

The service was held on May 10, a few days after the reopening of places of worship in Germany, the daily Frankfurter Rundschau reported.

Officials in the nearby Main-Kinzig-Kreis district had announced on Friday that 16 people who attended an event in Frankfurt became infected.

Confronting coronavirus: How Europe is tackling the crisis 

Germany began to relax the restrictions put in place to control the spread of the virus at the beginning of May, as it saw a strong decline in new cases.

But fears remain of a second wave in the country, which has been less affected than some of its European neighbours.

Earlier on Saturday, authorities in the northern state of Lower Saxony announced that seven people had been infected in a restaurant in the city of Leer.

A total of around 50 people have been quarantined. The question of allowing religious services is particularly sensitive in Germany and beyond.

In France, a week-long gathering organised by an evangelical church at the end of February, attended by some 2,000 people, was the source of dozens of outbreaks across the country.

In the United States, President Donald Trump on Friday called on state governors to authorise the opening of places of worship, which he described as “essential” at a White House news conference.

Germany had 177,850 officially declared cases of the coronavirus as of Saturday, with 8,216 deaths, according to the Robert Koch Institute.

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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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