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A page by the Federal Ministry of Health

Bundesministerium für Gesundheit
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Prevention

Find reliable information on how you can protect yourself against infection with the novel coronavirus and which previous illnesses are relevant.

The Corona-Warn-App is now also available to users from many other European countries. This allows people, who may only be in Germany temporarily, to use the app while in the country and thereby help interrupt infection chains. The Corona-Warn-App can now also be downloaded in all EU member states as well as Switzerland, Norway and the United Kingdom.

A home-made mask, also known as a non-medical mouth and nose mask or an everyday mask, can help to reduce the volume of droplets of saliva or respiratory secretions that reach other people when you breathe out, talk, sneeze or cough. However, they do not protect against infection with the novel coronavirus. The Länder have introduced rules on wearing non-medical mouth and nose masks, called everyday masks, when travelling on public transport and when shopping. Rules on wearing mouth and nose masks can differ from region to region, so please familiarise yourself with the rules that apply where you live. The following applies in all cases: Keep at least 1.5 metres away from others, practice good hand hygiene and adhere to sneezing and coughing etiquette. Please note: only FFP2 or FFP3 respirators (filtering face pieces) protect the wearer from infection with pathogens. Such masks are intended solely for medical staff and not for private individuals. Please do not purchase such respirators for private use.

To protect people at close proximity, the Länder have introduced rules on wearing non-medical mouth and nose masks, called community masks, when travelling on public transport and when shopping. Rules on wearing mouth and nose masks can differ from region to region, so please familiarise yourself with the rules that apply where you live. An everyday mask can help to contain droplets from saliva or respiratory secretions that are released when breathing out, speaking, sneezing or coughing, and prevent them from reaching other people. At all times, even if you wear a mouth and nose mask: Keep at least 1.5 metres away from others, practice good hand hygiene and adhere to sneezing and coughing etiquette. Please refrain from purchasing medical masks such as FFP 2 and FFP 3 masks for private use. These should be kept for medical staff only.

The coronavirus pandemic has not yet subsided. Studies indicate that the novel coronavirus can also be transmitted through airborne transmission via droplet nuclei, commonly known as aerosols. Coronavirus infection can also occur without symptoms and can also be passed on unknowingly. A non-medical face mask (community mask) above all protects others against potential infections. If the required distances cannot be kept, wearing a community mask remains necessary, especially in enclosed spaces. This applies to all places where several people come together in close spaces, such as public transport or supermarkets. This helps prevent potential transmission. People who wear a community mask protect themselves and others. Always remember to stick to the basic principles summed up by the DHM formula: Maintain a distance (at least 1.5 metres), observe hygiene rules (coughing and sneezing into the crook of your arm or a paper handkerchief, washing your hands) and wear a community mask (when there is little room or in crowded, enclosed spaces).

With effect from 27 April, the following applies: To stop the spread of the coronavirus, people must cover their mouth and nose from now on. In some Länder, failure to do so can lead to fines. Wearing a mouth and nose mask is not, however, necessary, if a doctor deems it is impractical to do so for medical reasons. If people with severe disabilities are not able to wear a mouth and nose mask, they should not expect to be fined. Their companion or carer must be able to substantiate any restrictions. A doctor’s note or a disability pass is helpful in such situations. The rules differ in some respects from state to state across the country, so please check what rules apply where you live. An overview of the rules in the various Länder can be found here.

There have recently been increasing speculation, especially on social media, as to whether wearing a mouth and nose mask, or everyday mask, is dangerous for children. Such speculation is often justified with the assumption that harmful carbon dioxide can collect under the mask and that this can result in respiratory paralysis, especially in children. This is not the case with ordinary mouth and nose masks made from textiles. What counts is that the wearer can breathe through the material and that carbon dioxide molecules cannot build up in the mask. A potential danger only arises with masks that tightly cover the whole face and hinder the exchange of air, for example certain types of snorkelling masks and other masks made of plastic if they are inappropriately used as mouth and nose masks. Children of pre-school age are largely excluded from the requirement to wear everyday masks. Please familiarise yourself with the requirements and age groups that apply in the area where you live.

Please make sure you follow the hygiene rules on changing and washing mouth and nose masks. Germs can collect and multiply in masks that have become wet.

Home-made mouth and nose masks should be washed after each use, ideally at 95°C but at least at 60°C and thoroughly dried.

Protection and hygiene

A homemade, non-medical mouth and nose mask does not protect the wearer from becoming infected with coronavirus. This is why a mouth and nose mask should not be described as a “protective” mask. However, a non-medical mouth and nose mask can help to reduce the volume of droplets of saliva or respiratory secretions that reach other people when you breathe out, talk, sneeze or cough. At all times, even if you wear a mouth and nose mask: Keep at least 1.5 metres away from others, practice good hand hygiene and adhere to sneezing and coughing etiquette. As a general rule, Only FFP2 or FFP3 respirators (filtering face pieces) protect the wearer from infection with pathogens. Such respirators are intended solely for medical staff and not for private individuals. Please do not purchase such respirators for private use. In private circles, hand disinfectants are generally not necessary unless someone is infected with the novel coronavirus. Here, it is more important to wash your hands regularly with soap and to make sure that towels, toothbrushes, cutlery and the like are not shared with other family members or flatmates. Please adhere to the hygiene rules and practice the coughing and sneezing etiquette.

With every respiratory infection, it is particularly important to adhere to the relevant protective measures: staying at home, keeping a distance of 1.5 metres to other people. In addition, you are required to follow the hygiene rules (coughing and sneezing etiquette, washing hands). If you fear that you may have been infected with the novel coronavirus and are showing symptoms, phone your doctor, who will then assess whether you are likely to have a Covid-19 infection.

Alternatively, call the out-of-hours patient care services by dialling 116 117. If you have had personal contact with a person who was laboratory-confirmed as having the novel coronavirus, get in touch with your local public health office immediately, regardless of symptoms. If you have a confirmed case of novel coronavirus infection, your public health office will tell you what else you need to do so as to protect others.

Now that measures are currently being eased, the most important protective measures are the hygiene rules (coughing and sneezing etiquette, washing hands regularly) and keeping a distance of 1.5 metres from other people. Wearing a community mask can also help contain the spread of the virus. To protect people at close proximity, the Laender have introduced rules on wearing non-medical face masks or “community masks”, when using public transport or shopping. Rules on wearing face masks may differ from region to region, so please familiarise yourself with the rules in force where you are. Details on the regulations can be found on the individual Land’s government website.

No, they do not. Antibiotics have no effect on viruses; they are only effective against bacterial infections. Covid-19 is caused by a virus and therefore antibiotics do not work. Antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment for Covid-19. They should only be used when prescribed by a doctor to treat a bacterial infection.

To find out, please contact your doctor’s practice by phone and find out how to proceed.

Information on Covid-19, for instance regarding the required hygiene measures, can be found on this website.

A lot of physical activity in the open air and a balanced diet can help to strengthen your immune system. Further information can be obtained here. If you do sports outside, please heed the local regulations and adhere to the rules of conduct summarised by the DHM formula: Maintain a distance of at least 1.5 metres, follow hygiene rules (proper coughing and sneezing etiquette, washing hands) and, when there is little space, wear a community mask. Further tips on how best to stay fit can be found here.

Information for risk groups

Using existing data, it has been possible to identify a series of risk factors that have statistically resulted in a severe progression. Known risk factors include high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus and chronic lung diseases. However, the fact that you suffer from one of these diseases does not automatically mean that the progression of an infection must necessarily be severe. These statements on pre-existing conditions and their relevance as risk factors are, inherently, mathematical statements of probabilities and do not permit direct conclusions to be drawn for any individual situation. Please contact your doctor if you have further questions.

Not every infection with the novel coronavirus among people with pre-existing conditions becomes more serious. The statements on pre-existing conditions representing additional risk factors are based primarily on mathematical statements on probabilities. The risk factors (LINK Artikel) include pre-existing cardiovascular diseases and those of the lung, liver, as well as diabetes and cancer. A diminished immune system due to medication (such as cortisone), obesity and lungs affected by smoking also constitute risk factors. Some risk factors can also mutually exacerbate one another. This means that older people with pre-existing conditions and other risk factors need to pay particular attention to avoid infection. By following the DHM formula (keep a distance, respect the hygiene rules and, where there is little space, wear a non-medical face mask or “community mask”), everyone can do their part to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. If you have questions regarding your own symptoms, please contact your doctor.

More information can be found in the article entitled “Ältere Menschen sowie Menschen mit Vorerkrankungen müssen sich besonders schützen” (English translation: older people as well people with pre-existing conditions must protect themselves especially).

Cancer patients belong in the risk group because of their prior medical condition. Their personal circumstances can differ significantly, however. Patients who take immune-suppressing medication can be at greater risk of becoming seriously ill if they become infected with Covid-19. They should contact their oncologist to discuss their specific situation.

The following applies for people in the risk group: Keep at least 1.5 metres away from others, practice good hand hygiene and adhere to sneezing and coughing etiquette. Wearing a community mask in public spaces is also recommended. You can minimise your personal risk this way. Contact your doctor about other steps you can take.

No, an influenza vaccination has no effect on how an infection with the novel coronavirus will proceed. The influenza vaccination can, however, lower the risk of influenza, which can help decrease the strain on the healthcare system.

Regular visits to old-age and nursing homes by a specified contact person will in future be permitted, so long as there are no active Covid-19 cases within the facility. This is meant to prevent visitors from transmitting the novel coronavirus to residents. Owing to their age and possible pre-existing conditions, the elderly are at an especially high risk of becoming seriously ill. This is why it is also important in old-age and nursing homes to observe the minimum safety distance from others while following good hand hygiene and proper sneezing and coughing etiquette.

So far, findings do not show pregnant women as being either at a higher risk of infection or at a higher risk of a severe progression.