I think I might have COVID-19. What should I do?
In the first instance, you should contact your doctor by telephone for further advice. Your doctor will decide whether a coronavirus test is necessary. if you have not yet registered with a doctor, you should contact the local health authority (Gesundheitsamt).
If your symptoms are acute and you need urgent medical care, you should call 116 117 immediately.
When is a coronavirus test necessary?
According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and the Federal Centre for Health Education (BZgA), a test is generally indicated if:
- you have flu-like symptoms
- AND have been in a high-risk area in the last 14 days
- OR have had close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days.
If you meet these criteria, you should contact your doctor by telephone. Do not visit your doctor unless you are advised to do so.
What tests are available for COVID-19?
There are essentially two types of test:
- PCR tests (antigen tests) – which involve taking a swab from the back of your throat. This examines whether you currently have the virus.
- Antibody tests – which examine whether antibodies to combat the virus are present in your blood. This examines whether you have previously had the virus but cannot detect whether you currently have the virus.
Your doctor will determine whether a test is necessary and what test you need.
What is a “high-risk area”?
The list of countries and regions considered high risk by the German government is updated continuously based on the prevalence of the virus.
The Federal Foreign Office (AA), Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) and Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) jointly update a current list of high-risk areas (scroll down for English version). If you have spent time in one of these areas in the last 14 days, you should inform your doctor. Depending on the rules in your federal state, you may also be instructed to self-isolate (quarantine).
Will I be tested on arrival in Germany?
This depends where you enter Germany as the federal states have control over specific implementation of traveler testing programs. As of August 2020, free testing is available for anyone arriving in Germany within the first 72 hours of arrival.
However, if you develop symptoms after arriving or spent time in high-risk area prior to your arrival, you should contact your doctor – or, if you have not yet registered with a doctor, the local health authority (Gesundheitsamt).
You can find your local health authority using this search tool from the Robert Koch Institute.
How does the Corona-Warn-App work?
The Corona-Warn-App has been developed by the German government to help combat the spread of the virus. It is entirely voluntary but highly recommended to help fight the virus.
Once downloaded onto a smartphone, the app aims to track who has had contact with infected persons and disrupt chains of infection.