By Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, Sylvia Cunningham and Kate Brady
Berlin’s COVID-19 cases are climbing, with at least four districts exceeding the acceptable limit of 50 cases per 100,000 residents over seven days.
They are Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, Tempelhof-Schöneberg, Neukölln and Mitte. At least one state — Schleswig-Holstein in northern Germany — is mandating two weeks quarantine or two negative coronavirus tests within five days for residents from those Berlin districts who travel there.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn opposed the state’s actions. He said cities should be considered as a whole when applying travel restrictions.
Meanwhile in neighboring Brandenburg, where COVID-19 numbers are much lower, a hospital facing an outbreak is no longer accepting new patients.
At least 13 employees and 12 patients at the Helios Klinikum in Bad Saarow have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Patients must stay put in the facility to avoid the further spread, and visitors are banned until further notice.
Hospitals in nearby cities, including Frankfurt Oder, are prepared to take in more patients as needed.
In an odd twist, the pandemic has led to a decrease in the number of people calling in sick in Germany.
According to the German health ministry, the number of people going on sick leave during the first nine months of this year is the lowest since the same time in 2017.
Martin Litsch, the chairman of health insurer AOK, said sick leave taken because of acute upper respiratory infections was also notably down over last year.
He told the dpa news agency that it appears people followed recommendations to stay at home from work even with light cold symptoms.
The weekly, Welt am Sonntag reported that another reason for the decline could be that more people are working from home.
Exercising less at sports centers and fewer commuting accidents may also have contributed to the decrease.
This news is brought to you in cooperation with Berliner Rundfunk.
Whether it’s our coverage of the coronavirus, rent freezes or more light-hearted subjects like Berlin’s pandas, you can count us for factual and informative content. We are the go-to source for the English-as-a-common-language community in Berlin and beyond. The pandemic will challenge us to find new ways of doing reporting, but we will continue to bring you the programming you love and news you can trust. We are a listener-funded public radio station, driven by donors like you. So please consider donating today to keep us on air, online and in your community.