Berlin declared Covid-19 hotspot as infections spike

On Thursday afternoon the German capital exceeded the 'critical value' of new coronavirus infections, putting it in the Robert Koch Institute's (RKI) classification of a risk area.

Berlin declared Covid-19 hotspot as infections spike
A face mask lays near Berlin's Brandenburg Gate. Photo: DPA

The number of coronavirus cases in the capital reached 52.8 per 100,000 residents in the last seven days, according to the Berlin Senate. 

That puts the whole city-state in the classification of a risk area, which the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) defines as more than 50 cases per 100,000 residents within a seven-day period. 

READ ALSO: MAPS: Where are the current Covid-19 hotspots right now?

Usually travellers coming from such areas are subject to a 14-day quarantine within Germany.

As of 4:30 pm, 498 people were confirmed to be infected with the virus over the last 24 hours, according to RKI data. 

The district of Neukölln still has the highest seven-day incidence value, currently at 114.3 per 100,000 residents, followed by Mitte with 78.3 and Tempelhof-Schöneberg with 72.4. 

Within the past 24 hours alone, Neukölln reported 150 new infections, followed by 59 in Mitte and 65 in Tempelhof-Schöneberg.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, a total of 17,112 people in Berlin have become infected with the virus, 13,965 who have reported themselves to have recovered from the disease. A total of 233 people have died.

Currently there are reported to be 2,914 people in Berlin infected with the virus.

In response to the growing number of infections, Berlin’s Senate has mandated that bars, restaurants and other establishments close between the hours of 11pm and 6am. The new measure and others will come into effect this Saturday.

Travellers from Berlin’s most highly infected districts are also no longer allowed to stay at hotels or pensions around Germany, with the exception of Bremen and Thuringia. 

READ ALSO: Around Germany: What you need to know about current Covid-19 travel restrictions


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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.