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LATEST: Germany logs new record number of Covid-19 deaths as more vaccines rolled out

Germany logged a new record in the number of people who died from or with Covid-19 on Friday, with 1,188 deaths within 24 hours.

LATEST: Germany logs new record number of Covid-19 deaths as more vaccines rolled out
A hospital in Demmin, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

Additionally 31,849 people were infected with the virus within 24 hours. 

The previous peak of 1,129 new deaths was reached on December 30th. The highest number of daily infections, or 33,777, had been reported on December 18th.

No clarity until mid-January?

When interpreting the case numbers, it should however be noted that in the weeks around Christmas and New Year, likely fewer people visited a doctor, and fewer tests were performed.

“This may have resulted in fewer pathogen detections being reported to the relevant health authorities,” the RKI wrote in its latest situation report.

Data for the seven-day incidence (number of new infections per 100,000 residents of an area within seven days) should also be evaluated with caution, said the RKI, until more robust figures are available.

According to Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), Germany won’t have clarity about the how the holidays impacted the rate of infection until January 17th.

READ ALSO: Do Germany's new lockdown restrictions go far enough?

Differences among states

Germany's seven-day incidence stood at 136.5 on Friday morning. The previous record had been reached on December 22nd, with a rate 197.6.

The differences between the federal states are quite large: Saxony had the highest rate of 297.6, followed by Thuringia with 256.9. The northern city-state of Bremen had the lowest value, or 73.5. 

This graph shows the seven-day coronavirus infection rate around Germany. Credit: DPA

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Germany has reported 1,866,887 coronavirus infections. The total number of people who died from or with the virus increased to 38,795 on Friday.

Further vaccine deliveries from BioNTech

All German states are set to receive a new shipment of BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine today, amounting to a total of nearly 668,000 vaccine doses. The shipment is to go directly from the manufacturer, BioNtech, to the states' 27 delivery centres.

The most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, will receive the largest share with 141,375 doses. Bremen will receive the smallest share, or 4,875. 

New virus variant found in Dresden

A new variant of the coronavirus has also been detected in Saxony. The Ministry of Health in Dresden announced on Thursday that the virus mutation had been found in a person from Dresden who had returned from Britain, where the variant was detected for the first time on December 24th.

READ ALSO: Fact check: What's the latest on Covid-19 (and the new variant) in Germany?

It was previously found in a woman in Baden-Württemberg who had arrived from the United Kingdom. According to scientists, the variant is significantly more contagious than the previously known version.

Hamburg first state to introduce stricter shutdown rules

In order to get the high infection figures under control, Merkel and Germany’s 16 state premieres agreed on a tighter partial lockdown, set to stretch until the end of January, with the possibility of extension to be discussed on January 25th.

Hamburg is the first state to introduce the new measures on Friday. 

They will then go into effect in neighbouring Lower Saxony on Sunday, and in the rest of the country from Monday. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: These are Germany's new tighter lockdown rules

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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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