Coronavirus in Switzerland: Number of cases rises above 260

Coronavirus in Switzerland: Number of cases rises above 260
Doctors treat a patient with the coronavirus. Image: AFP
Across Switzerland the total of infections now confirmed to be more than 260, with most cantons reporting at least one case.

In all, 20 out of Switzerland’s 26 cantons have declared cases of coronavirus with the total on Sunday March 8th standing at 260.

Ticino has 42 confirmed infections, including several health workers. Zurich has 30 cases, Vaud 30 and Geneva 24. 

Only Glarus, Nidwalden, Obwalden, Schaffhausen, Uri and Appenzeller-Innerrhoden have yet to register a case of the virus. 

On Thursday morning, a woman in the canton of Vaud became the first person to die of the virus

Updated figures come from cantonal authorities. Official federal government figures are lower as they require additional confirmations from the reference laboratory in Geneva. 

MAP: Which Swiss cantons have been most affected by coronavirus?

On Tuesday, the Federal Council has confirmed that there has been a transmission between people in Switzerland for the first time. 

Prior to this, all transmissions had happened in patients who had been overseas. 

Switzerland's 117 confirmed cases place it among the top 20 countries in the world in terms of coronavirus infection.

Two patients, one from Geneva and one from Ticino, have been the first to be released from hospital in Switzerland to have beaten the virus. 

France and Germany both have more than 200 confirmed cases, while in Italy there are at least 3,000, with more than 100 deaths. 

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Patients are doing well

Health authorities report that all the patients are doing well. “In most cases, the disease is mild and harmless,” said Daniel Koch, head of the communicable diseases division at the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

According to FOPH, all those who had been tested positive so far have been either infected in Italy or by someone who had travelled to Italy.

More than 500 people in Switzerland have so far been tested for Covid-19 and over 100 are in quarantine or isolation.

Among them are 44 kindergarten children and eight teachers from Spreitenbach in canton Aargau, who might have been infected by one of the educators.

Forty-five students and nine teachers in a high school in Biel / Bienne have also been put in isolation over the weekend. 


And five employees of the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz were quarantined this weekend after coming in contact with a former guest who later tested positive for the virus in the canton of Zurich; the guest came to Switzerland from Italy.

Given the speed with which Covid-19 is spreading, the Swiss government is preparing to face a wide range of scenarios.

“What is true today may no longer be true the day after tomorrow,” Health Minister Alain Berset told Le Matin Dimanche on Sunday.

“There will be more cases, it is clear,” he said, adding that the most important measure is to contain the evolution of the epidemic.

Precautionary measures

In an interview with the SonntagsZeitung, Berset stressed that each person must follow precautionary measures, in particular by avoiding handshakes and kisses.

People are also be asked to reduce contact with each other, through “social distancing measures”, Koch, told the NZZ am Sonntag

In order for someone to catch the coronavirus, that person must spend more than 15 minutes within two metres of an infected person, health officials said.

Last week, the government has banned public events of more than 1,000 people. `

Sports events, carnivals, concerts, and exhibits, including the Geneva International Motor Show, have been cancelled until March 15th at least. On that day, depending on the coronavirus situation in the country, authorities will lift or extend the restrictions.

READ MORE: How coronavirus has hit life in Switzerland as car shows and football matches are cancelled

Some locations, like the canton of Bern and the city of Chur have also banned smaller public gatherings.

Health authorities have released new hygiene guidelines on measures people should take to protect themselves and others from catching this illness. Additionally, the government has set up a multilingual hotline for questions about Covid-19. The number, which operates 24 hours a day, is +41 58 463 00 00.


READ MORE: Switzerland publishes new coronavirus advice and launches multilingual hotline

Travel is also being affected.

After suspending its flights to mainland China, SWISS is also reducing its services to some Italian desinations. “As a consequence of the Covid-19 coronavirus, SWISS has decided, together with the Lufthansa Group, to reduce its frequencies to and from Italy until the end of March”, the airline announced on its website.

Flight restrictions are in effect to and from Milan, Bologna, Turin, Verona, Venice, Trieste, and Genoa.

“Any customers whose flights are cancelled through the above actions may rebook free of charge or have the cost of their ticket refunded”, the airline added.

 


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