How is the Coronavirus transmitted?

The Coronavirus can be transmitted from person to person when one coughs, sneezes, singing or talking. Even when you breathe, the resulted tiny droplets (aerosols) produced stay afloat in the air for a time and may be inhaled by other people. The risk of infection is particularly high in closed crowded spaces. You may also become infected with the virus if you touch a surface or someones' hand if it has the virus on it. However, this type of transmission seems to be rather rare.

A transmission via pets has not yet been reported. The virus can survive on surfaces such as Copper and cardboard for a few hours to a number of days.

How serious is the risk of infection in Germany?

The Robert Koch Institute, the central German authority for disease monitoring and prevention, currently assesses the risk for people who have not been vaccinated or have only received one dose as "very high" in Germany. The institute estimates the risk rate for those fully vaccinated as well as recovered from infection as "high". Therefore, a booster dose is recommended. You can find more information under ‘Can I get a booster vaccine?’

The virus continues to spread very quickly in Germany. Currently even faster than before because of the new Omicron variant. This is because the new variant is highly infectious. The extensive efforts at all levels of the public health service have so far focused on delaying the further spread of the virus and preventing it through more vaccination as much as they can to relieve hospitals of strain. You can learn more about the current measures regarding social distancing (designated to slow down the spread) in our chapter “Corona: Public Life & Mobility”.

Who is particularly at risk?

Anyone may be infected by the virus, but he risk of a severe illness increases in the following groups:

  • People older than 50
  • People with cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, diseases of the respiratory system, high blood pressure and
  • People with suppressed immune systems (e.g. due to a disease or as a result of taking medications which suppress the immune system, such as Cortisone).
  • People with obesity
  • Smokers

If one is in more than one on the above mentioned groups, the person is considered to be at high risk of infection.

What are the coronavirus symptoms?

Those infected by the Coronavirus often suffer from coughs, have runny nose, sore throat, fever, headache and shortness of breathe. All these are very similar to the symptoms of seasonal flue. Some others also suffer deahrria or/and lose senses like smell and taste. A number of the infected get very ill and suffer respiratory distress or lung infection. The large number of current death cases have to do with lung infections caused as a result of the coronavirus.

Please note: It may take up to 14 days before you notice the symptoms. That means one may be infected (and transmit the virus to others) while feeling quite healthy. One may even be infected and transmit the virus to others without having any noticable symptoms.

What should I do if I suspect that I am infected?

If you think you may be infected, you should call a doctor or the special helpline 116117 or your local Health Department- you can find the proper Health Department on the website of Robert Koch Institute. You may have to try a few times, as currently many people try to contact this number.

You can also go straight to a testing centre and do a COVID-19 rapid test and then a PCR test. You can find out more about the tests in the section "Can I get tested for the coronavirus?" Make sure you wear a mask on your way to the testing centre.

Do not directly go to doctor’s office and keep as much distance as you can from others. You also need to inform your employer. If you live in an accommodation facility, make sure you let the facility manager know. 

Please note: You should isolate yourself immediately. Avoid contact with other people as much as possible. You can find out more about self-isolation in the section " What does self-isolation (“häusliche Quarantäne”) mean?".

Important: If you face serious difficulty breathing, call 112 and ask for help. You can learn more about seeking medical help in emergencies in our chapter Emergencies.

There is also another hotline in which you can seek information in German, in case you suspect you may be infected: 

What does self-isolation (“häusliche Quarantäne”) mean?

When you have been exposed to the virus or in case your test result is positive, you (and your family) will be quarantined, which means you are not allowed to leave your apartment for at least 10 days. You must follow the self-isolation rule. In cases of a violation, you may face a fine or even prison term. Try to remain calm and ask friends or neighbours to help you with groceries or find a delivery service online. To learn when you can leave your home-quarantine, contact the Health Office. You can find the relevant Health Office at the website of Robert Koch Institute.

If you are infected with the coronavirus and live in s shared accommodation facility with no private bathroom, the whole place may need to be quarantined. If so, talk to management and (collectively) plan for the coming days. Doing so can make the situation somewhat more bearable for everyone. You can learn more in our chapter “Coronavirus: Information for Asylum Seekers”.

Please note: If you have already received the booster jab or recently received your second vaccination and have no symptoms, you do not have to go into quarantine if a contact person of yours contracts COVID-19.

Can I rid myself of quarantine obligation by getting tested?

All other contact persons or infected people can leave the quarantine earlier, i.e., after just 7 days, with a negative rapid test or PCR test. Hospitals and nursing homes employees can only "free" themselves of quarantine obligation with a negative PCR test. School and daycare children can leave quarantine after just 5 days.

Can I get tested for coronavirus?

Everyone who lives in Germany can benefit from free COVID rapid tests or “Bürgertests” available in testing centres. You can also have yourself tested for the coronavirus in pharmacies or doctor's offices. There are quick tests and PCR tests available. You will receive the test result as a printout and/or as a digital document.

You can book an appointment at a test centre near you, e.g., at 15minutentest.de or covid-testzentrum.de. On mein-apothekenmanager.de, you will also find pharmacies nearby where you can do a rapid test. If your city is not listed, you can also google "Bürgertest", "Corona-Schnelltest" or "Corona Testcenter" along with the name of your city.

There are also so-called "self-tests" available to purchase in many drugstores, supermarkets and pharmacies. You can carry out these self-tests yourself at home. But they are not much reliable.

For the more accurate so-called PCR tests, the following applies: whether you must get a PCR test for free, is a decision made by your doctor or proper Health Department.

In principle, the following people should get tested:

  • Those with typical Corona Symptoms. You can learn more about the typical Symptoms in the section "How do I know if I am infected?".
  • Those who have had close contact with a corona-positive person within the past 14 days- including those who have been warned as contact person by the Corona Warning App. Close contact means that you have had direct contact with the person for at least 15 minutes, e.g. sat next to them or talked to her. Singing together, partying or doing sports indoors is also considered close contact. 
  • People at whose workplace, school, accommodation, etc. a corona case has been identified- this applies above all to schools, daycare centres, nursing homes, shared accommodation facilities, prisons, etc.
  • People with a positive rapid test or self-test results.

If you belong to one of the groups mentioned above, you should stay at home, observe the distance and hygiene rules and call the Health Department or your doctor. You can find the responsible Health Department on the website of the Robert Koch Institute. In principle, the Health Department will order a home quarantine and often a corona test. Make sure you follow the instructions of the doctors or the Health Department.

If you have any questions about corona vaccination, you can call the free hotline of the Ministry of Health on 0800-0000837. The staff there also speak English, Arabic, Turkish and Russian.

Can I get vaccinated against coronavirus?

Yes. Anyone who has registered their address in Germany or reside here regularly and for a long time have a right to a vaccination against the coronavirus. The vaccination is free of charge. Currently, anyone older than five can get vaccinated.

To get vaccinated, you only nead to make an appointment at a doctor's practice or a vaccination centre nearby. You can find vaccination centres and medical practices in your area, for example, on zusammengegencorona.de if you select your state and click on the corresponding links. You can also book a vaccination appointment directly and easily on doctolib.de.

You can register (free of charge) at randstad.de- then, available appointments at doctors’ offices or vaccination centres nearby - and you can directly book the date that works for you. When registering, you can choose the vaccine you prefer.

Since mid-December, pharmacists, dentists and veterinarians are also allowed to administer vaccnes. However, these professional groups are only allowed to vaccinate people aged 12 and over and must receive appropriate training beforehand.

What do I have to know about children getting vaccinated?

Since December 13, 2021, children of age between 5 and 11 are also getting vaccinated. They are receiving a reduced dose of the Biontech vaccine. The children, exactly like adults, get two vaccine shots to count as fully vaccinated. Already three weeks after the first vaccination, they can receive their second dose.

The standing commission on vaccination (STIKO) recommends vaccination for children especially the ones with previous illnesses or the ones with regular contact with risk patients. You can get your children vaccinated even if they have no previous illness or regular contact with risk patients. The decision rests with the parents. If you have questions, your pediatrician can help.

Children recovered from a Coronavirus infection don’t have to get vaccinated. They have a good protection. If you still want to get your children vaccinated, you should wait for six months after their recovery. After 6 months have passed, children recovered from the coronavirus infection can get vaccinated.

A study about children getting vaccinated showed that the vaccine is safe for children and offers good protection against the Coronavirus.

Can I get a booster jab?

The Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) recommends that everyone over the age of 18 receive a booster shot. A booster shot serves the best possible vaccine protection, as the effect of the vaccination wears off after a certain time. Furthermore, the new omicron variant of the coronavirus causes a lot of concern, which is why the STIKO recommends the booster vaccination three months after the last vaccination. The booster vaccination is carried out with an mRNA vaccine - currently these are vaccines from Moderna and Biontech. Both vaccines work well. The booster shots can be administered in vaccination centres, by resident doctors, mobile vaccination teams or company doctors.

With a booster jab, you are even better protected against the virus. And you don't have to show a negative test result in places where the 2G Plus rule apply. Furthermore, you do not have to go into quarantine if a contact person of yours tests positive. You can find out more about this in our chapter "Coronavirus - Public Life".

Shall I get vaccinated against coronavirus?

Many people are unsure whether to get vaccinated against COVID- and unfortunately, there is a lot of inaccurate information out there about vaccines. You can find reliable and verified information in many languages ​​on impfen-gegen-corona.eu and rki.de. If you have more questions about COVID vaccination, you can call the free hotline of the Ministry of Health on 0800-0000837. The staff there also speak English, Arabic, Turkish and Russian.

In addition, some rules, such as compulsory testing or quarantine after a trip to a high-risk area, do not apply to vaccinated people. You can find out more about this in our chapter "Coronavirus - Public Life".