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HEALTH

LATEST: Germany sees highest daily coronavirus infection toll since April

Germany has recorded 1,707 new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, the highest daily toll since April, official figures showed Thursday.

LATEST: Germany sees highest daily coronavirus infection toll since April
The Charite hospital in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Germany has fared better than many European neighbours in suppressing the virus so far but like elsewhere, the number of cases has jumped significantly over the summer holidays.

Much of the rise has been blamed on returning holidaymakers as well as parties and family gatherings.

The latest figures, from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases, bring to 228,621 the number of infections in the country since the start of the pandemic.

It takes the daily toll back to a level not seen since late April, when the pandemic was considered to be at its peak.

READ ALSO: Germany logs highest number of daily coronavirus cases since May

The daily record of new cases in Germany is just over 6,000, registered in early April.

Ten new deaths were reported in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 9,253.

Mandatory tests for returning travellers

Faced with a surge in cases, Germany earlier this month introduced free, mandatory tests for anyone returning from areas deemed a high risk for Covid-19 infections.

Chancellor Angela Merkel warned on Tuesday there could be no further relaxation of coronavirus restrictions.

READ ALSO: 'The trend can't continue': Merkel rules out easing coronavirus restrictions as cases spike

She urged Germans to follow the rules on hygiene precautions and reminded travellers returning from risk areas that quarantine was not an option “but a must” so long as they could not show a negative test.

Some experts however have said that the jump in the infection toll could be explained by a sharp rise in the number of tests being carried out in the country.

Quarantine requirement

In response to Germany's rising numbers, Finland announced on Wednesday that travellers from the Bundesrepublik were required to undergo a 14-day quarantine upon arrival.

It has imposed the same restriction on some other European countries with rising coronavirus numbers, such as Greece and Denmark.

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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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