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BUNDESWEHR

German army offers 10,000 soldiers to help coronavirus fight

Germany's defence minister on Wednesday offered up to 10,000 soldiers to help carry out coronavirus tests in care homes as the country continues to struggle with high infection numbers.

German army offers 10,000 soldiers to help coronavirus fight
Oliver Ronneberger, a press speaker for the Bundeswehr, showed a map on Wednesday of where around Germany they would be deployed. Photo: DPA

“The Bundeswehr is ready to assist at short notice with up to 10,000 men and women in old people's homes and nursing homes if we are called upon,” a spokesman for Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told AFP.

The soldiers would be able to receive training from manufacturers in how to carry out rapid tests, easing the pressure on care home staff and helping to protect those deemed most at risk from the virus, the spokesman said.

READ ALSO: Germany calls up army reserves to help fight coronavirus

“It is the most vulnerable in the pandemic who need our help now,” he said.

It will be up to local authorities to decide whether and how to take advantage of the offer.

Some 1,156 Bundeswehr soldiers are already helping out in 267 care homes, according to the defence ministry.

The army has made 20,000 soldiers available to help in the fight against the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, but so far work has been found for only around 8,000 of them.

Germany began vaccinating citizens against Covid-19 in late December, with care home residents among the first in the queue.

A total of 758,093 people had received their first jab by Wednesday, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) disease control centre.

Around 366,000 of them are health workers — such as doctors, nurses and care home staff — in regular contact with vulnerable people.

Around 285,000 care home residents have been vaccinated so far.

Germany reported 19,600 new cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours on Wednesday and 1,060 deaths, according to the RKI.

Member comments

  1. Adrian- wanted to thank you for the Solid commentary on the mandatory FFP2 mask article. Have you been arrested yet? Fight the good fight!

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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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