Х.irritation, runny nose, sore throat – these symptoms are likely to make many people nervous at the moment. Because in addition to being a harmless cold, they can also indicate a coronary infection.
The federal and state governments therefore recommend that all people with cold symptoms go into voluntary quarantine. In consultation with a doctor, the affected should be placed on sick leave by phone and treated.
On Wednesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and the prime ministers of the federal states will meet again to discuss tougher measures. Then the so-called cold quarantine should also be returned to the test.
So far there is only one recommendation
If all people with cold symptoms need to be isolated, it can cost the economy and taxpayers a lot. “Depending on the duration of the cold wave, cold quarantine can lead to losses measured relative to average wages, which can be in the low double-digit range of billions,” said Jгrg Kremer, chief economist at Commerzbank. “It would certainly be an additional burden on public budgets and companies.”
However, the costs are not so great that you need to change the economic forecast. In addition, the big question is whether the already overburdened health authorities would implement such quarantine in practice.
There is currently no obligation to quarantine cold symptoms. At their last summit last week, federal and state governments could only agree on a recommendation. The federal office has formulated stricter measures.
For example, people should be “quarantined at home with any symptoms of a cold, and especially with symptoms of the respiratory tract, such as coughing or runny nose,” according to a previous draft resolution from the Federal Office.
If the health department imposes quarantine on Covid infected persons or suspects, their employer must continue to pay for the isolation period. Companies can then reimburse costs from the responsible government agencies.
However: If an employee can work from home despite quarantine, he must continue to do so. This obligation does not apply until you are on sick leave. And those who voluntarily go to quarantine do not have the right to continuous payment.
According to estimates by the independent think tank Riskler, more than 776,000 people are already in quarantine in Germany. The analyzes are based on data from individual state ministries of health, districts and the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). In addition, if all people with only cold symptoms are isolated, the number is likely to increase significantly.
The ERC provides information on this. The body not only records coronary infections, but also provides weekly estimates of how many people in Germany are currently battling cold symptoms. The figures are based on projections from the so-called flu network, where thousands of patients report having symptoms this week.
The latest data are available for the 43rd calendar week, ie from the 17th to the 22nd of October. The numbers are probably also below the previous year’s values due to corona protection measures. According to this, about 1.2 million Germans were in medical practice this week due to acute respiratory disease. Respiratory diseases with and without fever were recorded.
Because not every patient goes to the doctor for a cold, the estimated value of how many people have cold symptoms is significantly higher. In the 43rd calendar week, the ERC estimates that it is 3.1 percent of the total population. That corresponds to about 2.5 million people in Germany. In the week before, the value was as much as 3.5 percent or the equivalent of 2.9 million people.
FDP calls for more testing facilities
Falker Wissing, secretary general of the FDP, warns of cost escalation. “When it comes to providing intensive medical care to people, cost issues must not be in the foreground,” Wissing told WELT. However, the health system is ultimately funded with economic success.
“Even in a time of corona pandemic, we must not arbitrarily weaken our economic foundations, otherwise we will miss the target of all measures,” Vising said. In any case, the increased national debt can not remain unlimited.
From the point of view of the FDP Secretary General, however, the proposal for cold quarantine reveals a completely different problem: missing and slow corona tests. “We urgently need transparency and information on who can be tested when, where, under what conditions,” Vising said. In addition, the result must be available within 24 hours. “We need more testing capacity for this,” Wissing said.
“When it comes to reasonable restrictions, federal and state governments need to look at all factors,” warned WELT Christian Wupen, a medical ethicist at the University of Cologne. Quarantine even with cold symptoms would burden people affected very differently.
“Individual cost factors in quarantine cannot be clearly balanced against each other,” Wupen said. For people with good mental health, financial losses will be a top priority, while unstable people suffer more from isolation.
However, the corona pandemic will also increase social inequality, Wupen said. “If cold quarantine becomes mandatory, social work must urgently focus on particularly pronounced cases.
In addition, the medical ethicist sees another danger: people taking advantage of the request and calling the sick without symptoms. “Then,” says Wupen, “there are additional costs.”