Ulrich Weigeldt: To test a lot is sensible in itself, but the obligation to test is actionism, which I think little of. The implementation was not planned sensibly and sensibly in advance.
WORLD: What should have been done differently?
Weigeldt: First are those risk areas been divided much too broadly. It makes a difference whether I come back from Mallorca from Ballermann or from a hiking holiday in Catalonia. However, only the latter is considered a risk area. In addition, many hotels have very strict hygiene guidelines. If the rules are properly implemented there, the risk of developing corona is no greater than in Germany.
Because of the obligation to test, we family doctors face a huge rush of people willing to test. After all, the costs for the patient are only covered within 72 hours. Not every practice will be able to handle it.
WORLD: Are the practices not prepared for the testing of Covid 19 patients?
Weigeldt: There are large practices in the country that have put a container in front of the door in which people can be tested with appropriate protective measures. However, many practices are still not equipped to investigate suspected cases.
This requires separate consultation hours, complete protective equipment for employees and a lot of time to answer questions from unsettled patients. It is also cynical that everything is remunerated in the same way as in the large test centers at airports.
WORLD: With 15 euros per test.
Weigeldt: Yes, that is really a slap in the face for the general practitioners. In the Test centers if the test lasts 30 seconds, the patient is sent away. That is no comparison to the effort we put into it. At least 50 euros would be appropriate. In addition, as doctors, we are not obliged to carry out these tests. Even if that is perhaps the wish of one or the other health minister.
WORLD: Do you expect some doctors to turn away patients?
Weigeldt: That will seldom be the case, I think. However, patients could be referred to the public health service that is actually responsible for this. It has a lot to do, but has been promised four billion euros by the federal government.
Weigeldt: We will certainly not begin to have any receipts shown to us during our full office hours. That’s absurd. We are doctors who are there to treat people, and not the branch of the Federal Ministry of Health. How am I supposed to check a hotel bill at all? Who was where exactly when?
Patients can put anything on the table for me. That is absolutely not our job. Apart from that: What happens if I confirm that and afterwards it says: That is not true at all, the receipts were wrong. That’s crazy.
WORLD: However, there is then the risk that anyone who feels like it can be tested – without actually having been abroad.
Weigeldt: As I said, it is not my role as a doctor to examine people’s motives.
WORLD: In autumn there are those who have a cold or flu.
Weigeldt: Yes, we anticipate a wave of flu vaccinations. Fortunately, awareness has risen, because influenza is not a harmless disease either. That might go under now, but relatively many people die in the course of strong flu waves. Also diseases like diabetes, stroke and Parkinson’s are not gone all at once because we have Covid-19. We put the main focus on a disease that currently 9,000 people in Germany are actively suffering from.
WORLD: Not as bad as you might thought?
Weigeldt: No, not at all, Corona should be taken seriously. But when people fear a Covid-19infection not going to the doctor, that’s a big problem. I know from radiology that significantly more serious illnesses are diagnosed because people don’t see a doctor early on.
If you stay at home with stomach pain, for example, you run the risk of undetected appendicitis – and that can be life-threatening. Our concern is that other diseases will be neglected because the world is revolving around Covid-19.
WORLD: Politicians cannot do more than appeal to citizens to see a doctor again.
Weigeldt: She can try to be less alarmed and leave the church in the village. But if the federal states outdo each other with their ideas, this leads to uncertainty among the population and among doctors. Then people say: We can no longer understand what politics is doing there.
The result are major demonstrations, like last week in Berlin. At the moment I have the feeling that we cannot find a reasonable middle ground. On the one hand we have the apocalyptic horsemen who like to hear themselves talking on television. And on the other hand, the equally wild ignoramuses who say that it doesn’t matter at all. Neither is correct. It has to be conveyed: yes, the disease is dangerous, but we have mechanisms to contain it. We have also learned a lot about the virus in recent months.
Weigeldt: I think it makes sense for the children to wear masks in the hallways. But as long as they are sitting at a distance from each other in the classroom, it makes more sense if they don’t have to wear one. You get bad air with masks, your performance can be limited. As long as we still have around 1000 new infections per day nationwide, I do not consider it necessary to wear a mask in class.