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What is the coronavirus situation in Germany in September 2020?

For the first time since August more than 2,000 new coronavirus infections have been confirmed within 24 hours in Germany. We look at the current picture.

What is the coronavirus situation in Germany in September 2020?
The town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen which has reported an outbreak. Photo: DPA

What's the situation now?

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported on Thursday September 17th, 2,194 new coronavirus infections within 24 hours. Cases last reached this level in mid-August but had dipped below 2,000 in recent weeks.

In March and April around 6,000 daily cases were being reported.

Since the start of the pandemic around 265,857 people have contracted coronavirus in Germany, according to the RKI.

A total of 9,371 people have died in connection with the virus and an estimated 237,000 have survived Covid-19.

The R number, which is used to measure how many people with coronavirus go on to infect others, currently stands at 1.

Experts say it's important to keep this number under 1, although localised outbreaks can lead to it fluctuating. It means one person with coronavirus goes on to infect under one other person.

READ ALSO: Germany can 'switch off coronavirus panic mode' says medical chief

 

Where are the new infections?

According to the RKI's report from Wednesday, 24 districts in Germany have reported an increased incidence of more than 25 cases in 7 days per 100,000 people.

But most new cases are in the southern state of Bavaria.

Districts affected include Garmisch-Partenkirchen and the urban district of Würzburg, in Bavaria, where the incidence rate is above 50 cases per 100,000 people in both cases.

In Würzburg, the increased cases have been attributed to a Covid-19 cluster stemming from an outbreak in a shisha bar and further cases in private or work environments.

Authorities in Bavaria believe that an outbreak in the ski-resort town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen was compounded by one so-called superspreader, a 26-year-old American woman who visited several pubs in the town of just over 27,000 people and infected several people in the process.

The woman visited several locations despite symptoms and an ordered quarantine, reported the RKI.

READ ALSO: Why is Bavaria so concerned about impact of American super spreader?

Kulmbach in Bavaria also exceeded the limit on Thursday with 52.9 new infections per100,000 inhabitants.

There are also increasing number of cases in the state of Baden-Württemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia.

The below table provides an overview of the number of cases in states. This was taken from the RKI's latest available report published on Wednesday.

Source: Robert Koch Institute

What does it all mean?

Scientists say that in the last few weeks more younger people have become infected in Germany.

“The current decline in the proportion of deaths among the reported cases is mainly explained by the relatively high proportion of younger people among the newly diagnosed cases, of which relatively few fall seriously ill and die,” said the RKI.

However, they pointed out that it's important to prevent a renewed increase in infections among the elderly and vulnerable groups in the population “as was the case at the beginning of the pandemic”.

“Since last week there has been a slight increase in the number of cases in the higher age groups; this trend should be observed carefully,” said the RKI in its report.

'Avoid large celebrations'

Experts urged people in Germany to follow the coronavirus restrictions put in place to stall the spread.

These including observing rules of distance and hygiene, also outdoors, by ventilating indoor spaces and, where necessary, by wearing a mouth-nose cover correctly.

“Crowds of people – especially indoors – should be avoided if possible and celebrations should be limited to the closest circle of family and friends,” said the RKI.

The RKI also said the number of cases stemming from people returning from abroad into Germany is going down.

However, there's an increase in Covid-19-related outbreaks being reported in nursing homes; hospitals, facilities for asylum seekers and refugees, community facilities, various work settings and in connection with religious events.

According to Johns Hopkins University, the number of infected people worldwide has risen to over 29.76 million. Most cases were reported in the USA (over 6.6 million), followed by India (over 5 million) and Brazil (over 4.4 million). At least 939,456 people worldwide have died as a result of Covid-19.

IN NUMBERS: What we know about the coronavirus situation in Germany in June 2020

 

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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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