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HEALTH

LATEST: Germany’s coronavirus incidence rate more than doubles in four weeks

Coronavirus cases are rising quickly, new figures show - and young people are increasingly affected. Here's an update on the current picture in Germany.

LATEST: Germany's coronavirus incidence rate more than doubles in four weeks
A mask sign in painted in Dortmund's nearly-empty city centre on Monday. Photo: DPA

On Tuesday the number of cases per 100,000 residents in Germany within a seven-day period (the 7-day incidence) had risen to 135.2, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). The day before, that number was 134.4.

Four weeks ago on March 2nd, the 7-day incidence was just 65.4.

The number of deaths reported every day is also picking up again.

After the number of new infections dropped significantly in the partial lockdown until around mid-February, the number of infections has recently risen sharply again.

READ ALSO: Is Germany heading for a tougher lockdown?

Experts say this is due to the spread of more infectious variants, particularly the B.1.17 variant that originated in the UK. 

“The virus variant B.1.1.7 is currently found in more than 70 percent of the positive samples examined in Germany,” said the RKI.

With the exception of the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg who did not submit their figures, the German health authorities reported 9,549 new coronavirus infections to the RKI within one day.

Meanwhile, 180 new deaths were recorded within 24 hours. This is according to figures released by the RKI on Tuesday.

Exactly a week ago, the RKI had recorded 7,485 new infections and 250 new deaths within a day.

This graph (credit: DPA) shows where in Germany has had the highest infection rates over the past 7 days.

Where are Covid outbreaks happening?

The RKI says the number of cases has “accelerated since about March 10th”.

Experts said the case numbers are rising in all age groups “but particularly strongly in children and adolescents, from whom transmissions and outbreaks also increasingly originate”.

Cases among the over 80s had been decreasing, but the RKI said this trend is no longer continuing.

READ ALSO: School openings will lead to more children getting longterm Covid, German doctor warns

In the majority of cases, the site of infection is unknown. However, Covid-19 related outbreaks are being observed in private settings in particular, “but increasingly also in daycare centres, schools and professional environments”.

The number of outbreaks in old people’s homes and nursing homes has decreased, said the RKI.

R number falls slightly

The RKI reports a total of 2,791,822 infections with Sars-CoV-2 in Germany since the beginning of the pandemic in Germany.

The actual total number is likely to be significantly higher, as many infections are not detected. The total number of people who have died from or with Covid stands at 76,093.

The nationwide seven-day reproductive number was 1.10 (previous day: 1.17), according to the RKI situation report on Monday evening.

This graph (credit: DPA) shows the 7-day coronavirus incidence from November 1st up until Friday March 26th.

This means that 100 Covid-infected people infect  on average 110 others. This value represents the number of infections 8 to 16 days ago. If it is below 1 for a longer period of time, the number of infections is decreasing; if it is continuously above 1, the number of cases is going up.

What about hospitals and vaccines?

As of March 29th, there were 3,573 Covid-19 cases in intensive care units (up from 116 from the previous day). A total of 1.961 patients were receiving ventilation.

Since December 26th 2020, a total of 9,001,925 people have been vaccinated against Covid-19 with one dose (10.8 percent of the population) and 3,877,914 with both doses (4.7 percent).

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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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