Rising coronavirus cases in Germany are ‘worrying but manageable’, says Merkel

Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) described the rising numbers of coronavirus infections in Germany as worrying, but still manageable, during a meeting Monday.

Rising coronavirus cases in Germany are 'worrying but manageable', says Merkel
Merkel speaking at a press conference in June. Photo: DPA

Merkel said that there would currently be no further relaxation of coronavirus rules across Germany, according to participants of the first virtual presidium meeting of Merkel’s centre right Christian Democrats (CDU) after the summer break.

This also applies to football games, which will not be played with spectators in September as had initially been anticipated. 

READ ALSO: German football fans hopes dampened as coronavirus cases rise

CDU leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer emphasized at the same meeting that she wanted to get a grip on the rising coronavirus infection numbers without far-reaching measures if possible.

“Every effort must be made to prevent a second lockdown,” said Kramp-Karrenbauer, according to party sources. 

Priority should be given to the safest possible operation of schools and daycare centers, she said. The economy must also be supported in order to avoid higher unemployment, for example through extending the Kurzarbeit (reduced working hours) programme.

Merkel has a “fundamentally positive” attitude toward such plans, said government spokesman Steffen Seibert.

As of Monday August 17th, there have been a total of 225,201 coronavirus cases in Germany, 201,872 who reported themselves to have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been 9,236 deaths resulting from the virus. 

Chancellor Merkel and Germany’s 16 state ministers are planning a meeting for the coming week in order to discuss the current coronavirus situation, and how to come up with more consistent rules across the country for fighting the virus. 

READ ALSO: In numbers: What's the latest on the coronavirus situation in Germany?

No need for alarm

Hesse state premier Volker Bouffier (CDU) also warned against getting too alarmed about the current coronavirus figures, according to party sources. 

Germany no longer has a situation like it did at the beginning of the epidemic in March, he said, and called on the country to deal with the situation “calmly”.

Bouffier and also North Rhine-Westphalian premier Armin Laschet had made it clear during the discussions that they expected it would be necessary to live with the current situation for a long time.

READ ALSO: Germany sees highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases since May

In the meantime, Lower Saxony's state government announced it’s considering postponing its planned relaxation of rules. Night clubs, for example, will remain closed.

Originally, the next stage of the relaxation was to take effect on September 1st, Minister President Stephan Weil told the radio station Antenne Niedersachsen on Monday.

“But we are currently in an unstable situation”, the SPD politician continued. 

The next stage will therefore be postponed “at least” until September 14th – or longer, depending on the situation.


Member comments

  1. Why is the government still allowing people to travel internationally and partake in events of up to 150 people (and more due to protesters!) if they are so concerned?
    We can all recognise that the number of cases have increased because of this behaviour! Those of us who haven’t are still being put at a disadvantage and can’t work! Not fair!

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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.