Coronavirus (COVID-19)

A 3-D model of the corona virus
Update 11.07.2022

What do I need to know?

Currently, SARS-CoV-2, also known as the COVID-19, still has a grip on Germany and our daily lives are constantly affected by brand-new developments. Here we offer an overview of current developments and regulations concerning in Germany. Information on this page is continuously updated and is carefully checked for accuracy and relevance to prevent misinformation.

What do I need to know?

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 your doctor’s office, unless they offer special “infection visiting hours” (“Infektionssprechstunde”) -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 "When should I self-isolate/ remain in quarantine at home (“häusliche Quarantäne”)?".

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: 

When should I self-isolate/ remain in quarantine at home (“häusliche Quarantäne”)?

As a close contact person of someone infected with the coronavirus, you (and your family) should self-isolate immediately. If you test positive for the coronavirus, you will be placed under home isolation. In both cases, you must self-isolate in your flat for at least 10 days. It is essential to follow the self-isolation rules. 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.

Please note: 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”.

How is the duration of my quarantine/self-isolation calculated?

If you have been infected with the coronavirus, the day you tested positive counts as the first day of your quarantine. If you have symptoms, isolate yourself before taking the test to protect others from infection, even if this time is not counted as your obligatory self-isolation period.

If you are a contact person of someone infected and have to remain in quarantine, in principle, your quarantine period starts from the moment you find out that you have been in contact with a person who has tested positive. You should consider the last day on which you had contact with the person in question. If you have symptoms before you learn that a contact person of yours have tested positive, get tested immediately.

Please note: The way the start point of your isolation/quarantine is counted may be different depending on the Health Department responsible for you.

 

Can I shorten my self-isolation obligation by getting tested?

If you are infected, can leave the quarantine after just 7 days if the result of your COVID test is negative, and you have had no symptoms for at least 48 hours. School and daycare children can leave quarantine by testing negative after 7 days, if they are infected, and after just 5 days if a contact person of them test positive.

At schnelltesttest.de, you can find out how well which rapid test detect the coronaviruses. The higher the percentage, the better the test.

In which cases I do NOT have to self-isolate?

As a contact person of an infected person, you do not have to go into quarantine if you:

  • are fully vaccinated. However, this only applies if you received your last vaccination between 14 and 90 days ago. You can find out when you are "fully vaccinated" or have achieved the so-called basic immunisation in our chapter "Coronavirus Vaccination" in the section "When am I considered "fully vaccinated?".
  • are "boosted". You can find out when you are considered boosted in our chapter "Corona Vaccination" in the section "When am I considered "boosted"?".
  • have recovered. You are considered recovered between day 28 and day 90 of your positive test result.

Please note: Each federal state can introduce further rules. You can find out which rules currently apply in your federal state at bundesregierung.de (in German) if you select your federal state.

How 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 as reliable as PCR tests. At schnelltesttest.de, you can find out how well which rapid test detect the coronaviruses. The higher the percentage, the better the test.

For the more accurate PCR tests, the following applies:

Since the laboratories in Germany are overloaded, only people who are particularly at risk and healthcare workers get PCR tests.

For everyone else: if their rapid test is positive, a second rapid test will be performed. If the second test is negative, they are considered Corona-negative. If it is positive, they are deemed to be infected.

If you test positive, 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 you to self-isolate at home and give you further instructions. 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.

I have tested positive. How can I protect my family/roommates?

If you tested positive for the coronavirus but you do not have severe symptoms, you will not be admitted to the hospital. But you will be sent to self-isolate at home. If you live with other people, there are a few rules to keep in mind:

  • Stay in a separate room than others as often as you can.
  • Visit the kitchen and bathroom as rarely as possible.
  • If you cannot avoid contact: keep your distance and wear a face mask.
  • Ventilate regularly.
  • Do not share dishes, towels, etc.
  • Clean light switches, doorknobs, etc. as often as possible.
  • Wash your laundry separately with minimum 60-degree hot water.

Important: Do not cut your self-isolation short before the Health Office tell you that you can do so.

Am I immune to the virus after I recover from a Coronavirus infection?

It is still unclear whether (and how long) infected people are immune after their recovery from the disease. Current research shows that number of antibodies in corona patients drop quickly. In principle, antibodies form after recovery from an illness and help prevent re-infection with the same illness (for a while or forever). That is the case, for instance, for illnesses such as measles or flu. In the case of the coronavirus, it is currently assumed that infected people are only immune for about 3 months after the illness. Your status as "recovered" therefore expires 3 months after you have recovered from the disease.

How does the Corona Warning App work?

The Corona Warning app notifies you when you have been near a person infected with the coronavirus. For instance, in the supermarket, on the bus or in the park. Or at an event. Then you can get tested and go into quarantine to prevent further infections. The more people use the app, the better it can protect us all. You can also use the app to show your digital vaccination certificate. For example, when entering the country or when visiting a restaurant or going to the theatre. The app can be installed quickly and free of charge. 

You can also use the Corona warning app to check in. If you do so, you do not have to fill out the contact form when visiting restaurants, etc.

You can watch an explainer video about the Corona app on our YouTube channel. You can find more information about the app in many languages on integrationsbeauftragte.de and bundesregierung.de.

What can I do to prevent the virus from spreading?

The best way to curb the spread of the virus if to follow the measures announced by the authorities, get vaccinated and receive the booster jab. You can find out more in our chapter "Coronavirus: Public Life". It is also crucial that we all adhere to the recommended hygiene and distancing measures:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly (for 20 seconds) with soap as often as possible.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with your bent arm when you cough and sneeze, or use a tissue.
  • Dispose of used tissues immediately.
  • Keep a distance of at least 1.50 meters from those who do not live in the same household.
  • Wear a face mask when outside and meet others. Please note that when shopping and on buses and trains, you need to wear a so-called “medical mask”. You can find out more in our chapter "Coronavirus: Public Life".
  • Use the Robert Koch Institute's Corona Warning app. You can find out more in the section "How does the Corona warning app work?"
  • If you are in a closed space: ventilate the room as often as possible.
  • Pay attention to current contact restrictions. You can find out more in our chapter "Coronavirus: Public Life".
  • Reduce contacts with other people as much as you can. Above all, try to avoid large gatherings of people in closed spaces.
  • Download and use the Corona Warning App which has been developed by Robert Koch Institute. You can learn more in the section “How does the Corona Warning App work?”.

On the website of the Federal Center for Health Education, you can find more information on protocols of conduct during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Why is Coronavirus so dangerous?

In the cases reported so far, four out of five cases were mild. In some cases, however, the illness becomes quite severe, leading to breathing problems and pneumonia. The survival rate is estimated to be 90% or the infected. 

However, many survivors still struggle with the aftermath months after the infection since the virus may attack various organs (lungs, kidneys, intestines, heart, etc.). Many patients complain of fatigue and exhaustion weeks or months afterwards.

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 someone's 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.

What are the coronavirus symptoms?

Those infected by the Coronavirus often suffer from coughs, have runny nose, sore throat, fever, headache and shortness of breath. All these are very similar to the symptoms of seasonal flue. Some others also suffer Diarrhoea 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 noticeable symptoms.

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 learn more in our chapter “Coronavirus Vaccination” in section ‘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”.

Who is particularly at risk?

Anyone may be infected by the virus, but the 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.

Where can I find up-to-date and reliable information?

The internet is filled with rumours and misinformation about the Coronavirus. That is why it is crucial to seek information from reliable sources. The following sources can provide you with current, verifies information:

Important

If you suspect that you are infected, contact the Germany-wide patient helpline by dialling 116117. They will let you know about the next steps. Please do not go to the doctor's office before first calling them. 

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