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COVID-19

Europe remains at risk of Autumn Covid resurgence, WHO warns

The World Health Organisation (WHO) warned Thursday that vaccination rates in Europe were still far off what was needed to stop a virus resurgence and called on countries to maintain protective measures.

Europe remains at risk of Autumn Covid resurgence, WHO warns
Guests sit outside a café after restaurants and bars were allowed to reopen outdoor seating amidst the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, in Berlin, on May 22, 2021. Adam Berry / AFP

According to the organisation, 30 percent of people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and 17 percent have been fully vaccinated in the WHO’s European Region — which spans 53 countries and territories and includes several in Central Asia.

“Although we have come far, we have not come far enough,” Hans Kluge, the WHO’s regional director for Europe, told a press conference.

“Vaccination coverage is far from sufficient to protect the region from a resurgence. The distance to go before reaching at least 80 percent coverage of the adult population is still considerable,” Kluge added.

WHO Europe director Hans Kluge. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP)

He noted that the region had seen an overall decline in new cases, hospitalisations and deaths for two consecutive months, but urged nations to avoid repeating the “mistake” of last summer by easing measures prematurely, leading to a resurgence in the autumn.

“Over the course of last summer, cases gradually rose in younger age groups and then moved into older age groups, contributing to a devastating resurgence, lockdowns and loss of life, in the autumn and winter of 2020,” Kluge said.

He called on countries to take “last year’s lessons aboard,” by acting fast on signals of increasing cases, expanding testing and contact tracing, and “rapidly attaining very high vaccine uptake in the most vulnerable populations.”

He also called on people to “enjoy the summer safely” by adhering to health guidelines.

Member comments

  1. Lol does Europe/Germany want this pandemic to actually ever end? Like get it together and vaccinate everyone by the end of this summer so we can have normal lives again. Anyone who chooses not to be vaccinated has to be extra careful, but the rest of us, we need to go on and move on. But come on, another wave? Another lockdown? Another winter like this past year will destroy those of us who struggle with mental health. Make vaccination a priority. Vaccinate everyone everywhere asap. I don’t understand why it’s so hard here…….

  2. I read that the protection from the vaccination would last only for 6 months. So how does a vaccination from April to June make sense, when it is known that the Virus is mostly active in late autumn and winter?
    With this in mind: I wonder how 80% can reasonably be achieved for autumn and winter?

    1. That’s why they are discussing booster vaccinations..but if the rollout is as slow as the first ones were, another horrible winter. America may have had a lot more deaths, but in the end, they got their shit together. Here however…

      1. America had much lower mortality rate than many EU countries. If we were to put all the EU countries together, you would have more deaths than America. But it’s not the number of deaths, it’s the mortality rate and overall number of deaths per capita that matter. And there is a great deal of controversy over how some states counted covid deaths. If covid was present in a car accident fatality, for example, it was noted as a covid COD. And the number of excess deaths for 2020 do not support the number of covid deaths. It’s all smoke and mirrors in the end. And the WHO, as we saw in January 2020 when they declared on the 14th that there is no human-to-human transmission, is a feckless organization of bureaucrats from the scientific community under the control of, or at least under the heavy influence of the CCP.

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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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