LATEST: Germany records new highest number of daily coronavirus cases

The number of new coronavirus infections in Germany reached a record on Thursday morning, or 23,679 cases within 24 hours, reported the Robert Koch Institute.

LATEST: Germany records new highest number of daily coronavirus cases
A sign in Görlitz's old town directs passersby to wear a mask. Photo: DPA

The last highest number of cases was on November 20th with 23,648 infections. 

In addition, 440 new deaths were reported to the RKI in 24 hours. The day before, a record high of 590 people died in connection with the virus.

READ ALSO: Merkel makes emotional plea for tougher curbs as Covid-19 deaths in Germany break record

The total number of people who have died from a Covid-19 infection since the start of the pandemic in Germany has now risen to 20,372.

In total, the RKI has registered 1,242,203 coronavirus infections in Germany. According to estimates, around 922,100 people have now recovered. 

This means that there are currently around 300,000 active Covid-19 cases.

The 7-day incidence – or the number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants per week – currently stands at 150, reported the RKI. At the beginning of the partial lockdown at the beginning of November, it had been around 120. 

According to the RKI, Saxony had by far the highest figure among the federal states, hovering around 300.

Several districts are experiencing extremely high rates, as the map below shows.

This graph (credit: DPA) shows the parts of Germany with the highest 7 day coronavirus incidence.

Calls for a hard lockdown

The President of the German Hospital Association (DKG), Gerald Gaß, said that there is an “urgent need for action” in light of the rising number of Covid-19 infections. 

He advised – as did the doctors' union Marburger Bund – to implement the “hard lockdown” recommended by the Science Academy Leopoldina. 

“The big opportunity of a hard lockdown over three weeks is that the infected people do not have any contact with healthy people. Then the virus has no chance to spread,” Gass told the Passauer Neue Presse on Thursday. 

READ ALSO: Scientists plead for 'hard lockdown' in Germany as fears grow over Covid-19 spike at Christmas

The chains of infection could then be consistently traced again.

According to the RKI management report of Wednesday, the nationwide seven-day R value was 0.99 (previous day: 1.02). This means that 100 infected persons will mathematically infect another 99 people.

The value reflects the level of infection 8 to 16 days ago. If it is below 1 for a longer period of time, the infection subsides.

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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.