Berlin (dpa) - In the fight against the spread of the corona virus over the summer travel season, voluntary tests on holiday returnees should start on a broad front.

Since Saturday, all immigrants can have themselves tested free of charge within 72 hours of arrival in Germany without any signs of illness. This is laid down in a regulation by Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn (CDU). This should be possible, for example, in test stations at airports, in health offices and medical practices. Ultimately, the state bears the costs.

Spahn called for the new test options to be used. "If you come back from a trip, you should get tested - voluntarily and free of charge." The rising numbers of infections in Germany are a clear warning signal. "The virus doesn't go on vacation." The tests are supposed to be another tool to avoid that many infected people spread unnoticed over Germany.

THE TESTS: Free tests can be taken within 72 hours of entry - the time span is three days. They should be possible, for example, at airports, train stations and other travel hubs, in health offices or medical practices. Test sites should also be available on medical service number 116 117.

The cost of a retest per person will also be covered. A boarding pass, a ticket, a hotel bill or other proof of a stay abroad can be used to prove that you are a returning traveler. Depending on the capacity of the test centers, the result should be available after about 24 to 48 hours, the Ministry of Health explained.

THE COSTS: The tests are initially paid for by the statutory health insurers - but the Ministry of Health has already signaled that the federal government will ultimately take over the funding through a higher billions subsidy that has already been decided. For each test, the regulation initially sets 50.50 euros for laboratory services, for doctors a flat rate of 15 euros is provided. There is criticism of the financing of the tests on taxpayer costs. Spahn argues against this that nobody should do without it for financial reasons. Undetected infections could become more expensive.

The German General Practitioners Association warned of considerable effort in the implementation if many returning travelers now come to the practices with a 72-hour period for tests. In the best case scenario, a doctor would still get patients somewhere, said chairman Ulrich Weigeldt. "Then it is time to put on protective equipment, take a smear and have a conversation about hygiene measures, the validity of the tests and their consequences." The 15 euros that general practitioners should get for a smear looked like a "bad joke".

Stricter rules already apply to those returning travelers who were in high-risk areas with high infection numbers. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) lists which countries these are, which the three Spanish regions of Aragon, Catalonia and Navarre also came to on Friday. From the EU, Luxembourg also likes it. Anyone who comes from such risk areas must go straight to quarantine in the home for 14 days and report to the health department. It is also possible to submit a negative test result that is at most 48 hours old.

A test obligation for returnees from high-risk areas will soon also come into effect - an order announced by Spahn should come into force in the course of the coming week. Then the following should apply: Those who come from a risk area must either have themselves tested within 48 hours before entry or within 72 hours after entry. Until there is a negative result, you have to go to quarantine in Germany. The result must be proven within 72 hours at the health department with a test certificate in German or English.

SPD leader Saskia Esken called for a significant expansion of the corona tests in Germany in view of increasing numbers of infections. A strategy is needed that allows early detection of infections through comprehensive and targeted tests, thereby reducing further infection risks, said Esken of Düsseldorf's Rheinische Post (Saturday). "There is now a need for and responsibility in the federal, state and local authorities."

The chairman of the SPD parliamentary group in the German Bundestag, Rolf Mützenich, called it "right to now introduce mandatory tests for returnees from such areas". To criticize that Spahn's decision was too late, he told the editorial network Germany (RND / Saturday): "It would have been desirable to think about how we should deal with the returnees well in advance of the summer vacation." Mützenich also criticized vacationers who spend vacations in Corona risk areas. "I cannot understand why people come up with the idea of ​​using areas with a high risk of infection as recreational spots." Only bereavement or family emergencies could be reasons for such a trip.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 200801-99-07851 / 2