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HEALTH

No nightclubs or retirement home visits: Zurich issues coronavirus guidelines

The health department of the canton of Zurich has issued new guidelines to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

No nightclubs or retirement home visits: Zurich issues coronavirus guidelines
Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric from Pexels

As of early Tuesday evening, the number of patients infected with the virus climbed to 13 – with more expected to follow. 

In order to stop the virus spreading further, the Zurich cantonal health department (Gesundheitsdirektion) has laid out a set of recommendations it hopes the 1.5 million residents of the canton will follow. 

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The recommendations include avoiding parties and events with persons from heavily impacted areas, as well as advising the general public to keep their distance from older people. 

The recommendations are in addition to the government’s recent ban of events involving more than 1,000 people, however are advisory only and are not binding. 

READ: Switzerland bans all major events to stop coronavirus contagion 

No parties – especially night-clubs 

The official advice tells Zurich residents to avoid “events with many people in close physical contact in closed rooms… i.e. clubs”.  

The recommendation only applies to parties, with other close gatherings like schools not being targeted. 

READ: Two Swiss high school classes quarantined over coronavirus

No events with people from affected areas

Zurich also recommends the cancellation of any events with participating groups from the areas which are the most impacted, including Italy, China, South Korea and Iran. 

The recommendation has been given generally. As noted in the advice document, given the sheer variety of events taking place, it is up to organisers to take steps to follow the guidance. 

“Zurich is the most populous canton with thousands of events; an examination of individual cases is therefore not possible. The health department counts on the personal responsibility of the population and the organizers, which is why it only makes recommendations and does not issue any binding instructions.”

Avoid contact with elderly people

As the spread of the virus so far has indicated, elderly people – particularly those suffering from other health conditions – are especially at risk from the virus. 

The Zurich authorities have therefore recommended the general public avoid contact with vulnerable populations, i.e. people in nursing homes and care facilities. 

WATCH: Five key questions about the coronavirus answered

Although the impact on children has been less significant, the advice also references this. 

“Avoid close contact between children and older or chronic sick people.”

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“Visits to retirement and care centres as well as hospitals should be minimised and always take the appropriate precautionary measures (disinfection / hand washing, no contact, distance).

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HEALTH

Reader question: Can I put my Swiss health insurance on hold if I’m abroad?

Given how expensive health insurance premiums are in Switzerland, you may be tempted to suspend your policy while you are abroad. Is this possible?

Reader question: Can I put my Swiss health insurance on hold if I'm abroad?

Unlike the obligatory car insurance, which you can suspend temporarily by depositing your registration plates at the local motor vehicles office, rules pertaining to health insurance are much stricter.

As the Federal Office of Public Health explains it, “If you leave the country for a certain period to travel or study but do not take up residence abroad, you are still required to have [health] insurance in Switzerland”.

In other words, as long as you are a registered resident of Switzerland, regardless of your nationality or passport, you must keep your compulsory Swiss health insurance and pay your premiums. While you do this, you also remain covered against most medical emergencies while you travel.

However, rules are less stringent for supplemental health plans which can, in some cases, be put on hold, depending on the insurance provider, according to Switzerland’s Moneyland consumer website.

The only exception allowed for suspending the health insurance coverage is during a military or civil protection service which lasts more than 60 consecutive days.

“During these periods, the risks of illness and accident are covered by military insurance. Your health insurance provider will refund your premiums”, according to FOPH.

Under what circumstances can you cancel your Swiss health insurance?

Swiss law says you can cancel your insurance if you are moving abroad, either permanently for for a period exceeding three months.

If you do so, only claims for treatments given while you still lived in Switzerland will be paid by your insurance; any medical bills for treatment incurred after you officially leave will be denied.

These are the procedures for cancelling your compulsory health insurance if you leave the country under conditions mentioned above

To announce your departure abroad, you must send your insurance carrier a letter including your name, customer number or AVS/AHV number.

You must also include a certificate from your place of residence in Switzerland confirming that you have de-registered from your current address, as well as the date of your departure.

Note, however, that if your new destination is another Swiss community / canton, rather than a foreign country, your insurance can only be cancelled from the following calendar year and only if you present proof of having taken up a new policy with another company.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to register your address in Switzerland

You can find out more information about this process here

If you suspend your health insurance for less than six years, you can reactivate it at a later date with the same company when you return to Switzerland.

READ MORE : What you should know about your Swiss health insurance before you go abroad
 

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