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Symbolic image of the common cold: Currently found again on many bedside tables

Photo: Wolfgang Maria Weber / IMAGO

According to Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, patients should be able to take sick leave by telephone again from today. "We will make it possible to take sick leave by telephone permanently," the SPD politician told the Handelsblatt.

"The process proved its worth during the pandemic and then unfortunately expired. From 7 December, it will apply again to patients for whom it is foreseeable that they will not have a severe course of the disease and who are already known to the doctor," Lauterbach is quoted as saying. Accordingly, the regulation on this is to be decided by the Federal Joint Committee this Thursday. "This is a significant relief for employees, employers and doctors."

Lauterbach: Masks no longer necessary in everyday life

Telephone sick leave was introduced in spring 2020 at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. They are intended to break chains of infection and avoid infections. The sick note by phone also relieves the burden on doctors' offices. And those affected who do not necessarily have to go to the doctor because they only need a few days of bed rest can cure themselves at home instead of dragging themselves to the doctor's office.

Nevertheless, Lauterbach advised some over-60s with risk factors to go to the doctor's office: Because of the current wave of infections, it is best to get vaccinated against flu and Covid at the same time.

In general, however, the immunity of the population is high. "Masks are therefore no longer necessary in everyday life," said Lauterbach. And that's how he keeps it. "I'm vaccinated. That's why I only wear the mask when I meet people I could endanger," he said. This is the case, for example, with my 88-year-old mother. But that's the exception."

In the case of sick leave by telephone, doctors' associations had recently criticized the sluggish procedure. It would have been "an urgently needed relief for the currently extremely challenged family doctors' practices already this winter," the federal chairman of the General Practitioners' Association, Markus Beier, had criticized. Infectious diseases have recently risen sharply in Germany due to seasonal factors.