There is a telephone helpline (1450) to guide patients to the right point of contact in order to avoid physical contact with health care professionals and other patients. Contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases are tracked by the health authorities and have to isolate until their test is either negative (for direct contact persons) or until the expiration of 14 days of voluntary self-isolation (indirect contact persons, who are not tested in absence of symptoms). Currently, contact tracing is also made possible on a voluntary basis using an app provided by a private insurance company and the Red Cross (see section 1.4 Monitoring and surveillance).
People who are at a high risk of developing complications in case of COVID-19 infection are advised to stay at home from work. A specific salary replacement scheme has been introduced for the reimbursement of employers’ costs (see Section 1.2 Physical distancing).
The triage process for COVID-19 patients is based on the symptoms they show: Mild/moderate cases are treated at home in quarantine, moderate cases may be admitted to hospitals (hospital care without intensive care) and severe cases are admitted to intensive care units. Until the beginning of April there had been no factual triage of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units (e.g. decisions who will be intubated) as capacities are still sufficient.
Several recommendations and guidelines have been published on the website of the Federal Ministry of Health including measures for hospitals, physicians working in outpatient care, contact tracing, live-in carers in private households, semi-residential care and formal home care, obstetrics (regulation on visitors), hygiene measures, training of staff, recommendations on psychological support for health and care professionals, on psychological support for carers of older people, on psychological support for the general population, recommendations for parents, and for health care managers.