Number of new Covid-19 cases in Germany continues to fall

The number of new coronavirus cases is continuing to fall, giving hope that a positive trend is emerging.

Number of new Covid-19 cases in Germany continues to fall
People walking in Cologne. Photo: DPA

On Monday Germany reported 6,729 new coronavirus infections within one day, while 217 deaths were registered.

Last Monday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) recorded 7,141 new infections and 214 new deaths within 24 hours.

On Mondays the number of cases recorded is usually lower, partly because fewer tests are carried out at the weekend.

A high of 1,244 new deaths was recorded on January 14th.

The highest number of new infections registered within 24 hours – 33,777 – was reported on December 18th, but this figure included a late report of 3,500 cases from the previous day.

This chart below by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, shows the number of daily new cases in Germany on a rolling seven day average.

According to the RKI, the number of new infections reported within seven days per 100,000 inhabitants (7-day incidence) was 111.2 on Monday.

The previous peak was reached on December 22nd with 197.6. The number fluctuated thereafter but has been falling for several days.

The federal government's goal is to reduce the incidence to below 50 to enable contact tracing to be carried out.

However, experts have warned that the coronavirus variants pose a major threat and could lead to the situation becoming significantly worse if shutdown measures are relaxed too quickly.

READ ALSO: German virologist Drosten warns of 100,000 daily Covid-19 cases in Germany if measures taken away too quickly

Due to the high numbers and deaths as well as fears over virus variants, Chancellor Angela Merkel and state leaders exteneded and tightened lockdown measures until February 14th..

In total the RKI reports 2,141,665 Covid-19 cases in Germany since the beginning of the pandemic. The actual total number is likely to be much higher, as many infections are not detected. The total number of people who have died from or with Covid-19 has risen to 52,087.

The RKI gave the number of those who recovered as about 1,823,500.

The nationwide seven-day R-value was 1.01 (previous day also 1.01), according to the RKI situation report on Sunday evening. This means that 100 infected people mathematically infect 101 other people. The value represents the number of infections 8 to 16 days ago. If it is below 1 for a longer period of time, the incidence of infection is decreasing.

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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.