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On Saturday, the the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) issued new recommendations to help the general public in stopping the spread of the virus.
The advice included two different categories: recommendations aimed at the general public and recommendations for especially vulnerable people.
What is the official advice for members of the general public?
Switzerland's Federal Office for Public Health has said the risk of contracting coronavirus in the country is “moderate” but that may change depending on the evolution of the outbreak.
The new recommendations to come in over the weekend were to avoid public transport at peak times and to keep your distance as much as possible when doing so.
Anyone who has symptoms of a cold or flu has been advised to stay home at all times.
The FOPH also told the general public to avoid visiting retirement homes – and to contact nursing staff if a visit is unavoidable.
As part of the 'Protect yourself and others' campaign, the FOPH originally recommended six simple steps to avoid being infected with coronavirus – and prevent its spread to others.
Each of the steps is illustrated with a video:
- Wash your hands thoroughly.
- Cough and sneeze into a paper tissue/handkerchief or the crook of your arm.
- Stay at home if you have a high temperature and a cough.
- Avoid shaking hands
- Always call ahead before going to the doctors or hospital
- Dispose of used tissues in a sealed bin
What is the advice for vulnerable people?
Members of the population who are considered especially at risk of spreading the virus are those aged over 65 or people who have the following diseases: cancer, high-blood pressure, diabetes, respiratory diseases, immune system conditions and cardiovascular diseases.
For anyone who fits into this class of people, the government laid out the following recommendations:
- Avoid public transport at peak times.
- Do your shopping outside of the main shopping hours or have the purchases delivered, e.g. B. from a family member, friend or neighbour.
- Avoid public events (theatre, concerts, sports events).
- Avoid business and private meetings that are not essential.
- Avoid unnecessary business and private meetings.
- Reduce visits to retirement homes, nursing homes and hospitals to a minimum.
- Avoid contact with sick people.
What are authorities doing to curb the spread of the virus?
The Swiss government has already banned public events of more than 1,000 people and the country's football league has been suspended until at least March 23rd.
The cantonal authorities decide on events with less than 1000 participants.
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.
Switzerland has so far resisted calls to close borders and authorities have not taken measures to close schools.
Switzerland insists it is prepared and points to three steps authorities are taking.
- Testing for the new coronavirus has been intensified in people presenting flu-like symptoms.
- The Infoline is staffed 24 hours daily in German, French, Italian and English.
- Travellers and cross-border commuters are being provided with advice at the border and at airports on what to do if symptoms appear (shortness of breath, cough or high temperature).
FOPH has also set up a multilingual hotline for questions about Covid-19. The number, which operates 24 hours a day, is +41 58 463 00 00.
People who experience symptoms such as shortness of breath and high fever should call this number immediately, FOPH says.
Authorities are also informing travellers at border crossings and airports about the risks posed by coronavirus.
The virus comes with mild flu-like symptoms such as coughing, sneezing and sore throat, with some also reporting diarrhoea.
The illness usually not a threat to individuals with strong immune systems. The German government calculates the death toll worldwide at around two percent, although this number may be high.
Only patients treated in hospitals are accounted for, leaving mild cases undocumented and likely skewing results.
Elderly individuals, pregnant women and immunocompromised people are at a greater risk of serious complications related to the Coronavirus.
Should I wear a face mask?
The WHO and governments have repeatedly stated that the masks are only useful if you're already ill, or if you're a health professional assisting people who are ill.
What should I do if I think I have COVID-19?
If you think you have the virus, do not go to hospital or your doctor's surgery.
Health authorities are worried about potentially infected people turning up at hospitals and passing on the virus.
You should alert health authorities and then self-isolate.