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LATEST: Germany reports highest daily number of Covid-19 infections since April

Germany has registered more than 2,600 new daily coronavirus infections in 24 hours – the highest number since the peak of the crisis in April.

LATEST: Germany reports highest daily number of Covid-19 infections since April
A sign in Remscheid, NRW, urging people to stick to coronavirus measures. Photo: DPA

Within a day, the public health authorities reported 2,673 new coronavirus infections, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said on Friday morning.

That number has previously twice exceeded the 2,500 threshold in recent days, prompting authorities to tighten measures and urge for more caution across the population.

READ ALSO: 'Life as we know it will return': Merkel makes emotional appeal for more caution in coronavirus crisis

According to the RKI, at least 294,395 people in Germany are confirmed to have contracted the Sars-CoV-2 virus since the beginning of the pandemic. A total of 9,508 people have died so far, with eight deaths reported in 24 hours.

Scientists estimate that around 259,500 people have survived the infection in Germany so far.

The peak in the number of new daily infections was more than 6,000 at the end of March/beginning of April. The number then fell and rose again in July. The amount of new cases detected also depends on how many people are tested.

Rise in number of people in Germany in intensive care

There's also been an increase in the number of Covid-19 patients receiving intensive care.

According to the current RKI situation report, 362 coronavirus patients are currently being treated in intensive care units, while 193 of them are receiving ventilation.

One week before, there were 296 infected patients (166 ventilated) and a week before that 238 infected patients (135 ventilated). Around 8,700 of the approximately 30,540 registered intensive care beds are currently still available in German hospitals.

READ ALSO: These are the countries and regions on Germany's 'high risk' quarantine list

What else is important to know?

The RKI said the seven-day incidence exceeded 50 cases per 100,000 people in four districts in Germany (as of October 1st): the cities of Hamm and Remscheid in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), the district of Berlin Mitte and Rhön-Grabfeld in Bavaria.

In a further 38 districts, it exceeded 25 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. A total of eight districts transmitted zero cases over the past seven days.

Heath experts said the proportion of deaths among Covid-19 cases “has been consistently below one percent” and that is much lower than spring, particularly in April.

“It is unlikely that the virus has changed to become less pathogenic,” said the RKI when explaining the lower death rate.  “Rather, the low proportion of deaths can be explained as follows: on the one hand, recent infections have occurred mainly among young people, who rarely experience a severe course of disease.

“On the other hand there is also broader testing, which means more milder cases are identified. Additionally, as the number of cases increases, the true proportion of severe courses of disease and deaths only becomes apparent some time after diagnosis.”

READ ALSO: 'Stricter rules than other parts of Germany': These are Berlin's new coronavirus rules

The RKI said if the trend continues and more elderly and vulnerable people become infected with the virus, an increase in hospitalisations and deaths should be expected.

They say the situation should be monitored closely.

What about the R number?

According to RKI estimates, the reproduction number, or R-value for short, was 0.90 in Germany according to Thursday's situation report (previous day: 0.96).

This means that a person with coronavirus infects on average slightly less than one other person. The R-value reflects the course of infection about one and a half weeks before.

The RKI also gives a so-called seven-day R in its current situation report. This value refers to a longer period of time and is therefore less subject to daily fluctuations.

According to RKI estimates, this value was 1.05 on Thursday (previous day: 1.00). It shows the infection rate from eight to 16 days ago.

Experts want to keep the number at or below one as much as possible.

 

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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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