Navigation and service

Use of cookies

By clicking on "Allow" you consent to the anonymous recording of your stay on the site. The evaluations do not contain any personal data and are used exclusively for the analysis, maintenance and improvement of our website. For further information on data privacy, please click on the following link: Data Privacy Policy


Unit 31: Focal Point for the Public Health Service, Crisis Management, Outbreak Investigations and Training Programmes

Ute Rexroth
Katharina Alpers, Maria an der Heiden


The unit is the focal point for the Public Health Service (PHS). Both units 31 and 32 (Surveillance and Electronic Reporting and Information System (DEMIS)) act as contact points for the Public Health Sector and coordinate and/or support several committees and networks within the PHS. The unit is also responsible for national and international crisis management, outbreak investigations, as well as training programmes.

Crisis Management (Team 31.1)

International Notifications

Infectious disease events of potential international relevance must be communicated in a timely manner to ensure appropriate infection control measures. For this purpose, the Early Warning and Response System (EWRS) based on EU Regulation No. 2022/2371 and the system of national focal points of the International Health Regulations (IHR) are used.

Epidemic Intelligence

  • Epidemic Intelligence includes creating and editing guidance documents, risk assessments, and the weekly epidemiological situation conference (EpiLag).

Generic national crisis planning and management

  • The RKI develops frameworks, conducts exercises and maintains coping strategies and evaluation tools (including In(tra)- and After-Action Reviews) in order to protect public health in epidemically significant situations related to infectious diseases through improved crisis response.

RKI internal crisis planning and management

  • RKI internal crisis planning and management comprises further development, coordination and organisation of the RKI emergency operations centre during epidemically significant situations as well as planning, implementation and evaluation of simulation exercises.

Infection protection and travel

  • Prevention and control of infectious diseases transmitted during travel to protect the public against potential outbreaks or their further spread.

Infection protection in the field of migration and socially vulnerable groups

  • Improving infection protection for migrants, considering their heterogeneity and different vulnerabilities to infectious diseases. These can arise before, during and after migration and are a result of social, economic and legal factors, among others. Precarious living, housing and working conditions play a central role. Resulting vulnerabilities are often similar to other marginalised or discriminated populations.

Networks and committees:

  • Focal Point for the Public Health Service Focal Point in Germany with interfaces to the Unit 32 “Surveillance” and other units within the department.
  • Coordination of the weekly epidemiological telephone conference (EpiLag)
  • Coordination of regular exchange with the IHR-designated airports
  • Representation of the RKI as a guest within the working group meetings of coastal countries for ship sanitation (AkKü)
  • National coordinator of the ECDC Coordinating Competent Bodies for GermanyCooperation in the network of ECDC National Focal Points Threat detection EWRS/IHR and Preparedness and Response
  • Representation of the RKI at the working group meeting of the Health Security Committee (HSC) of the EU Commission
  • RKI contact point for the Joint Reporting and Situation Centre of the Federal Government and the Länder (GMLZ, National IHR Focal Point) as IHR contact point for infectious diseases
  • Representation of the RKI at the WHO on the topic of IHR as IHR contact point for infectious diseases
  • Representation of the RKI at the Public Health Emergency Operations Centre Network (EOC-Net) of the WHO
  • Representation of the RKI in the network "Collaborative Arrangement for the Prevention and Management of Public Health Events in Civil Aviation (CAPSCA)"

International Cooperations (Team 31.2)

  • Coordination and implementation of international projects, e.g. within the framework of third-party funded projects such as the Global Health Protection Programme and the German Biosecurity Programme
  • Needs-adjusted support to partner countries in potentially all tasks and areas of the unit’s expertise and based on the experience from Germany
  • Strengthening IHR implementation in partner countries
  • Strengthening national and regional capacities in partner countries in the areas of crisis preparedness, outbreak containment, crisis response and inter-sectoral collaboration, In(tra)- and After-Action Reviews
  • Methodological design and implementation of various context-adjusted training courses and workshops on concept development, IHR capacities, as well as support with planning, implementation and evaluation of simulation exercises
  • Close collaboration with other RKI organisational units on international activities, in particular the Centre for International Health Protection at the RKI.
  • Strengthening the network between the German Public Health Service and international partners
Networks and committees:
  • Contact point in the Department for Infectious Disease Epidemiology for the WHO Global Outbreak Alert & Response Network (GOARN)
  • Participation in the network coordinated by Africa CDC to strengthen Public Health Operations Centres (PHEOCs) in the WHO AFRO and EMRO region

Outbreak investigations (Team 31.3)

  • Coordination of requests for assistance by the German Public Health Service, setting up and supervising field investigation teams, further development of manuals.
  • Operational evaluation and reporting, support of outbreak teams
  • Technical support of the PHS at federal state or municipal level in risk assessment, outbreak investigations, interpretation and reporting in the context of administrative assistance
  • Support for intervention research and evaluation of public health measures in the German Public Health System

Postgraduate Training in Applied Epidemiology (PAE) and European Programme for Intervention Epidemiology Training (EPIET) (Team 31.4)

  • Organisation and scientific coordination of the two-year Postgraduate Training in Applied Epidemiology (PAE) in cooperation with the European Programme for Intervention Epidemiology Training (EPIET)
  • Planning and implementation of the Master’s degree in Applied Epidemiology (MSAE) in cooperation with the Charité and the Berlin School of Public Health (BSPH)
  • Management of the "Master’s degree in the Applied Epidemiology (MSAE)" programme
  • Supervision and training of PAE and EPIET Fellows
  • Statistical supervision of PAE projects
  • Collaboration in the implementation of courses within EPIET (European Programme for Intervention Epidemiology Training)
  • Cooperation with the European Programme for Public Health Microbiology Training (EUPHEM)
  • Expansion of the PAE programme in the federal states
  • Expansion of e-learning offers and web seminars for the PHS
  • In cooperation with the federal states and academies, implementation of teaching activities on applied infection epidemiology for the German Public Health Sector and other target groups, e.g. participation in structured training of public health officers and training of hygiene inspectors and Epikurs@RKI

Networks and committees:

  • Contact point for Germany in the network of ECDC National Focal Points Training, Coordination Committee
  • Representation of the Department for Infectious Disease Epidemiology in the EPIET Training Site Forum
  • Participation in the training programmes in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network (TEPHINET)
  • Member of the WHO-FAO-OIE Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for a One Health Field Epidemiology Competency Framework


Ongoing projects

  • Fellowship Programme EPIET/EUPHEM, ongoing since 1996
  • Global Health Protection Programme (GHPP), tPhase II, 2023 to 2025: Supporting partner countries in dealing with outbreaks, strengthening crisis management and preparedness, and building resilient health systems, also with regard to IHR capacitie
    In this framework, four sub-projects are implemented by the units:

    • WASP (Western Balkan Strategic Partnership for Health Protection), a multidisciplinary project with other RKI OUs, building on GETPrepaRed (Global Emergency Trainings and support for Preparedness and Response to Disease outbreaks, since 2016)
    • TwiNit 2.0 (Twinning Project for the establishment of the Namibian Institute for Public Health), a multidisciplinary project with other RKI OUs, building on TwiNit (since 2020)
    • IHR Summer School Revision: evaluation and revision of the workshop concept of the IHR Summer School (since 2016)
    • ProTECt II (Project on Training for Public Health Emergency Operations Centres), collaboration with WHO regional offices and member states on PHEOC capacity building
  • German Partnership Programme for Biosafety and Health Security, Phase 4, 2023 to 2025, strengthening crisis management in Tunisia with a focus on sub-national level and inter-sectoral approach
  • Participation in EMT_TTT (Emergency Medical Teams Twinning, Training, Transfer of Knowledge), GHPP 1.1.2023, until 31.12.2025, strengthening the the RKI capacities for GOARN, SEEG and EMT missions, an additional PAE fellow will be hired for the duration of the project.

Completed projects (selection)

  • PANDEM-2 2021 to 2023: PANDEM-2 is an EU-funded project under Horizon2020 that aims to develop new solutions for efficient EU-wide pandemic management.
  • EU JA-SHARP 2019 to 2022: The Joint Action SHARP aims to promote preparedness planning in the EU for major cross-border health threats and the implementation of the International Health Regulations (2005).
  • Collaborative project within the framework of Infect Control 2020: "Effective strategies for controlling and dealing with pathogen propagation routes in air transport" (HyFly), sub-project 5 (TV5) "Epidemiological assessment of infection transmission in airport infrastructure construction and in the aircraft transport system", 2016 to 2019
  • Development of algorithms for situation assessment and situation update for exceptional biological hazard situations using the Early Alerting and Reporting Platform (ELLA project), 2016 to 2018
  • CHAFEA - Entry and Exit Screening Training, work package evaluation, 2018 to 2019
  • WHO Communicable Disease Surveillance and Response project: development and implementation of guidelines on outbreak screening and response and training of trainers in partner countries in Central Asia, 2014 to 2017
  • EU project "Coordinated action to control infectious diseases transmitted on the aircrafts (AIRSAN)", 2013 to 2015 (
  • EU research project "Risk assessment guidelines for infectious diseases transmitted on aircraft (RAGIDA)", 2008
  • EU Research Project "Response to Emerging infectious disease: Assessment of Core capacities and epidemiological Tools (REACT)", 2008 to 2010

Date: 31.07.2023


  • Moek F, Rohde A, Schöll M, Seidel J, Baum JHJ, an der Heiden M (2022): Attack Rate for Wild-Type SARS-CoV-2 during Air Travel: Results from 46 Flights Traced by German Health Authorities, January-March and June-August 2020.
    Can J Infect Dis Med Microbiol.: 8364666. doi: 10.1155/2022/8364666. more

  • Kajikhina K, Sarma N, Hauer B, Hövener C, Dietrich M, Wieler LH (2022): Fluchtmigration: Für eine gute Gesundheit sorgen.
    Dtsch Arztebl 119 (17): 764-768. more

  • Schöll M, Seidel J, Boldt M, Czerwonka H, Ehlkes L, Frühsammer L, Ippisch S, Rexroth U & an der Heiden M (2022): In(tra)-Action Review (IAR): COVID-19-Management an IGV-benannten Flughäfen in Deutschland, September 2020 bis Mai 2021.
    Epidemiologisches Bulletin (23): 3-11. doi: 10.25646/10120. more

  • Hoebel J, Haller S, Bartig S, Michalski N, Marwuis A. Diercke M, Schmid-Küpke, N, Wichmann O, Sarma N, Schaade L, Hövener C (2022): Soziale Ungleichheit und COVID-19 in Deutschland – Wo stehen wir in der vierten Pandemiewelle?
    Epid Bull (5): 3-10. doi: 10.25646/9555. more

  • Zimmermann R, Sarma N, Thieme-Thörel D, Alpers K, Artelt T, Azouagh K, Bremer B, Broistedt P, Eckmanns T, Feltgen N, Huska M, Kröger S, Puls A, Scheithauer S, Mayr E, Rexroth U (2021): COVID-19 Outbreaks in Settings With Precarious Housing Conditions in Germany: Challenges and Lessons Learned.
    Front Public Health. 9 (708694): doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2021.708694. more

  • Alpers K, Haller S, Buchholz U; RKI Feldteam (2021): Untersuchung von SARS-CoV-2-Ausbrüchen in Deutschland durch Feldteams des Robert Koch-Instituts, Februar–Oktober 2020.
    Bundesgesundheitsbl 64 (4): 446–453. Epub Mar 17. doi: 10.1007/s00103-021-03296-y. more

  • Bender JK, Brandl M, Höhle M, Buchholz U, Zeitlmann N (2021): Analysis of Asymptomatic and Presymptomatic Transmission in SARS-CoV-2 Outbreak, Germany, 2020.
    Emerg. Infect. Dis. 27 (4): 1159-1163. Epub Feb 18. doi: 10.3201/eid2704.204576. more

  • Grote U, Arvand M, Brinkwirth S, Brunke M, Buchholz U, Eckmanns T, von Kleist M, Niebank M, Ruehe B, Schulze K, Stoliaroff-Pépin A, Thanheiser M, Schaade L, Said D, Haas W (2021): Maßnahmen zur Bewältigung der COVID-19-Pandemie in Deutschland: nichtpharmakologische und pharmakologische Ansätze.
    Bundesgesundheitsbl 64 (4): 435–445. doi: 10.1007/s00103-021-03306-z. more

  • Halm A, Grote U, an der Heiden M, Hamouda O, Schaade L, Rexroth U; RKI-Lagezentrums-Gruppe (2021): Das Lagemanagement des Robert Koch-Instituts während der COVID-19-Pandemie und der Austausch zwischen Bund und Ländern.
    Bundesgesundheitsbl 64 (4): 418–425. doi: 10.1007/s00103-021-03294-0. more

  • Kleine-Kampmann S, Schöll M, Ehlers L, Hewelt E, Götsch U, Göbels K, Ippisch S, Seidel J, Thanheiser M, Schindler B, Kalkowski M, Boldt M, Dirksen-Fischer M, von Münster T, Jeglitza M, Chmielewska J, Sangs A, Mouchtouri B, Rexroth U, an der Heiden M (2021): Flug- und Schiffsverkehr während der COVID-19-Pandemie in Deutschland: Herausforderungen für den Öffentlichen Gesundheitsdienst.
    Bundesgesundheitsbl 64 (4): 454–462. doi: 10.1007/s00103-021-03297-x. more

  • Lindner AK, Sarma N et al. (2021): Monitoring for COVID-19 by universal testing in a homeless shelter in Germany: a prospective feasibility cohort study.
    BMC Infect. Dis. 21 (1): 1241. Epub Dec 11. doi: 10.1186/s12879-021-06945-4. more

  • Loenenbach A, Markus I, Lehfeld AS, an der Heiden M, Haas W, Kiegele M, Ponzi A, Unger-Goldinger B, Weidenauer C, Schlosser H, Beile A, Buchholz U (2021): SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7 susceptibility and infectiousness of children and adults deduced from investigations of childcare centre outbreaks, Germany, 2021.
    Euro Surveill. 26 (21): pii=2100433. doi: 10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2021.26.21.2100433. more

  • Markus I, Steffen G, Lachmann R, Marquis A, Schneider T, Tomczyk S, Koppe U, Rohde AM, Schink SB, Seifried J, Domaszewska T, Rexroth U, An der Heiden M (2021): COVID-19: cross-border contact tracing in Germany, February to April 2020.
    Euro Surveill. 26 (10): 2001236. doi: 10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2021.26.10.2001236. more

  • Milde-Busch A, Zeitlmann N, Mücke I, Gilsdorf A, Rexroth U, an der Heiden M; EpiLag-Working Group (2021): Ten years of weekly epidemiological teleconference (EpiLag) – an effective and time-efficient tool for infectious disease event information, Germany, 2009–2018.
    Epidemiol. Infect. 149: e115. Epub Apr 12. doi: 10.1017/S095026882100073X. more

  • Zimmermann R, Sarma N, Thieme-Thörel D, Alpers K, Artelt T, Azouagh K, Bremer V, Broistedt P, Eckmanns T, Feltgen N, Huska M, Kröger S, Puls A, Scheithauer S, Mayr E, Rexroth U (2021): COVID-19 outbreaks in settings with precarious housing conditions in Germany: challenges and lessons learned.
    Front. Public Health 9: 708694. Epub Sep 21. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2021.708694. more

  • Böhmer MM, Buchholz U, Corman VM, Hoch M, Katz K, Marosevic DV, Böhm S, Woudenberg T, Ackermann N, Konrad R, Eberle U, Treis B, Dangel A, Bengs K, Fingerle V, Berger A, Hörmansdorfer S, Ippisch S, Wicklein B, Grahl A, Pörtner K, Muller N, Zeitlmann N, Boender TS, Cai W, Reich A, An der Heiden M, Rexroth U, Hamouda O, Schneider J, Veith T, Mühlemann B, Wölfel R, Antwerpen M, Walter M, Protzer U, Liebl B, Haas W et al. (2020): Investigation of a COVID-19 outbreak in Germany resulting from a single travel-associated primary case: a case series.
    Lancet Infect. Dis. 20 (8): 920-928. Epub May 15. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30314-5. more

  • Götsch U, Göbels K, Ippisch S, Dirksen-Fischer M, Boldt M, Ehlers L, an der Heiden M, Schöll M, Rexroth U et al. (2020): Hinweise für COVID-19-Prozesse im Flugverkehr.
    Epid Bull (29): 12–13. doi: 10.25646/6996 (online vorab am 9.7.2020). more

  • Rexroth U, Hamouda O, Hanefeld J, Ruehe B, Wieler LH, Schaade L (2020): Letter to the editor: Wide indication for SARS-CoV-2-testing allowed identification of international risk areas during the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany.
    Euro Surveill. 25 (23): pii=2001119. doi: 10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2020.25.23.2001119. more