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What the end of free corona tests means

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Status: 06/30/2022 03:25

After more than a year, the free corona tests for everyone are now over. At the same time, the number of new infections is increasing. What are the implications of the new testing regulations and who will continue to benefit from free testing?

How is the Corona situation?

The number of infections is increasing. Experts also assume a high number of unrecorded cases for some time – partly because not everyone infected gets a PCR test. Only these count in the statistics of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). The number of people infected with coronavirus treated in intensive care units is also increasing according to the DIVI resuscitation register has been increasing for a few days and is currently significantly higher than a year ago.

The test labs speak of a clearly recognizable “summer wave”. According to the Association of Accredited Medical Laboratories, the number of tests and positive results has increased sharply. The positive rate has increased to 52%, so analysis of data from the last two weeks. However, the national average for laboratory utilization is at a low 30%.

What’s changing with rapid tests?

Until now, everyone – even without corona symptoms or a specific reason – was entitled to at least one free rapid corona test per week by trained personnel, including a test notification, which usually arrives directly on the smartphone and can be used as evidence.

The free offer is now, with a few exceptions, “suspended”, as stated in the Federal Ministry of Health’s draft for the new Corona test ordinance, which was announced last week. The revised order and new rules are expected to come into effect on June 30, according to the ministry.

Who gets more free trials?

People who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. These are, for example, women in the first trimester of pregnancy. In the future, rapid and free corona tests will continue to be available for caregivers, people with disabilities and their caregivers.

Household members of infected people, children up to five years old, and residents and visitors of nursing homes, facilities for the disabled and clinics also do not have to pay for a rapid test. People who, after a corona infection, need proof that they are negative again in order to be able to return to work, for example, can continue to be tested free of charge.

Who has to pay three euros?

The three-euro tests are intended for visitors to family celebrations, concerts or another “event in an indoor space” on the same day. This should help prevent so-called super-spreading events, in which many people become infected at the same time.

Anyone who has a Corona red warning app or who plans to meet other people over 60 or with a history of illness should also take a three-euro test.

For providers, the “reimbursement price” must be reduced from 11.50 euros to 9.50 euros: the federal government will add 6.50 euros to the three euros.

How should this be controlled?

The justification for the proposed regulations states that these visits must be made “credible”. With the three-euro test, for example, you still have to sign that the test is passed due to a planned visit to a concert, a family celebration or a visit to an already ill relative.

It remains to be seen whether this will sufficiently deter would-be scammers. A concert ticket can also be presented as proof. When visiting relatives or family celebrations, it is naturally difficult to provide receipts.

What evidence is still needed?

As before, an “official photo ID” must be presented. But many children up to five years old – for whom there are still free tests – do not have a children’s identity card or passport, criticizes the National Association of Legal Health Insurance Physicians. In practice, this should work as recommended by the Ministry of Health: For children without ID, it is enough for the legal guardians to present their ID.

Pregnant women can use the maternity pass as proof of a free test. Household members of infected people show their test results.

Why is the test offer restricted?

Because it was too expensive from the federal government’s point of view. According to Lauterbach, the free tests had recently devoured a billion euros per month. They have existed – with a brief interruption last fall – since the spring of 2021. “Not everything can be paid for by the federal government in the long term because our possibilities have reached their limits”, justified the Minister of Finance Christian Lindner.

According to Lauterbach, the new concept still foresees costs of 2.7 billion euros by the end of the year. If the current practice were to continue, it would be five billion.

How are the Corona measures going?

The currently applicable rules of the Corona Infection Protection Act expire on September 23. They contain only a few so-called basic protection measures. Lauterbach has already announced a reform of the law. According to a ministry spokesperson, key points for further action should be presented before the parliamentary recess.

According to Lauterbach, he is in talks with Federal Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP) and expects a quick agreement. The two ministers recently stressed that they should wait for the scientific assessment of the previous corona containment measures by the Expert Council. The report is due Friday.

Source www.tagesschau.de

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