Deutsche Post plans preventative coronavirus tests for thousands of employees

Deutsche Post wants to be the first German company to give several thousand employees the opportunity to be tested for the coronavirus, regardless of if they show symptoms.

Deutsche Post plans preventative coronavirus tests for thousands of employees
Employees at a Deutsche Post package center in Groß Schwaß, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania on April 8th. Photo: DPA

“We will offer significantly more than 10,000 employees the opportunity to be tested for Covid-19 as a precautionary measure, especially in larger facilities,” board member Tobias Meyer told the Rheinische Post.

The tests will be carried out systematically by occupational doctors in selected, mainly larger, operating facilities according to a risk classification. 

Along with supermarket or pharmacy employees, package deliverers have been among Germany's frontline workers in the corona crisis – dealing with an increased demand due to shops being closed and more people staying home.

Meyer announced that the company was taking the path of a “prophylactic test strategy,” or a preventative measure.

According to Meyer, employees have been tested for Covid-19 in the past, regardless of if they thought they had been infected. 

“The striking thing was that in the broad tests…we found an unexpectedly high number of infected people, but who have so far shown no symptoms of the disease,” he said. 

As a result, Deutsche Post must assume that it has more coronavirus-infected people around its premises than previously suspected, he said.

According to Meyer, Deutsche Post's company doctors will probably offer the tests in some of the 36 parcel centres and possibly also in letter distribution centres. 

The company had first tested around 4,000 employees in Germany after an infection with the coronavirus had occurred in their direct vicinity. 

The firm announced that it would pay for the tests, calculating at least €130 per test.

Germany currently has a widespread coronavirus testing strategy, carrying out around 900,000 tests a week.

The country has confirmed over 180,000 coronavirus cases as of Tuesday morning, although over 160,000 have reported themselves to have recovered. There have also been over 8,300 deaths from the virus.

READ ALSO: Germany coronavirus testing capacity increases to 900,000 a week


Operating facilities – (die) Betriebsstätten

Risk classification – (die) Risikoeinstufung 

Striking – auffällig

In the vicinity – im Umkreis

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Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Since the start of Germany’s Oktoberfest, the incidence of Covid infections in Munich has risen sharply. Though a connection with the festival can’t yet be proven, it seems likely.

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Two weeks after the start of Oktoberfest, the Covid numbers in Munich have more than tripled.

On Sunday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported an incidence of 768.7 for the city of Munich, though updated figures for the end of the festival are not expected until later in the week. Usually, on weekends and public holidays, there is a delay in reports.

In the entire state of Bavaria, the incidence value on Sunday was 692.5.

According to Munich’s public health officer, Beatrix Zurek, bed occupancy in Munich hospitals has also increased. Two weeks ago, 200 beds in Munich were occupied by Covid patients, whereas there are now around 350.

Though a relationship between the sharp rise in infections with Oktoberfest, which ended on Monday, can’t be proven at the moment, it seems very likely, according to experts. A significant increase in Covid incidences has also been shown at other public festivals – about one and a half weeks after the start. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s famed Oktoberfest opens after two-year pandemic hiatus

After a two-year break due to the pandemic, around 5.7 million visitors came to this year’s Wiesn according to the festival management – around 600,000 fewer than at the last Oktoberfest before the pandemic in 2019, when there were 6.3 million.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) took to Twitter to comment on the rise in incidence in Munich during the Oktoberfest. “This would not have been necessary if self-tests had been taken before admission,” he said.

“Compared to the price of a measure of beer, €2-3 (for tests) wouldn’t have mattered,” he said.

Even before the start of the Wiesn, he had spoken out in favour of people taking voluntary self-tests. Lauterbach stressed that now is the time for special measures against Covid.

“The development shows what will happen if the states wait too long with the mask obligation in indoor areas,” he added.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s new Covid-19 rules from October

In neighbouring counties, where many Oktoberfest visitors came from, the number of Covid cases has also risen noticeably.  Beatrix Zurek said that it is unclear, however, how much of a role Oktoberfest played in these figures, as people are currently much more active socially overall, with concerts and other events also taking place throughout the state.

Christoph Spinner, an infections specialist at Munich’s Klinikum, has urged people not to be alarmed by the rising numbers.

“We had expected rising incidences here. We knew that there could be a doubling, tripling, even quadrupling,” he said.

He said that this is no cause for concern, as many people have been vaccinated or have also recovered from previous Covid infections, so any new infections are therefore usually mild.

The virologist advises people over 60 or with pre-existing conditions to get a second booster vaccination, but otherwise said people shouldn’t be alarmed by the rising incidences.