Several newly detected infections in the western Swiss cantons of Vaud and Geneva have pushed the total confirmed cases in Switzerland to more than 370.
Ticino has the most confirmed cases of any Swiss canton with 66, while Vaud (47), Zurich (40) and Geneva (38) also have a large number of confirmed cases.
In all, 21 out of Switzerland’s 26 cantons have declared cases of coronavirus with the total on Monday March 9th standing at more than 370.
Only Glarus, Nidwalden, Obwalden, Schaffhausen and Uri have yet to register a case of the virus.
On Sunday morning, a 76-year-old man in Basel Country died, making him the second victim of the virus in Switzerland.
On Thursday, a woman in the canton of Vaud became the first person to die of the virus.
On Monday, March 9th, authorities in Zurich said every doctor in the canton was now equipped to test for the virus.
The virus has already made an impact on the Swiss economy, with experts suggesting that healthcare spending is likely to rise to CHF1.7 billion as a result.
Updated figures come from cantonal authorities. Official federal government figures are lower as they require additional confirmations from the reference laboratory in Geneva.
Stand 09.03 12.00 sind 374 positiv getestete Fälle in der Schweiz und FL. Davon sind 312 Fälle bestätigt und bei 62 Fällen liegt ein erstes positives Resultat vor, Bestätigung ausstehend.https://t.co/fbPZggF3pc pic.twitter.com/7mscCHHbkw
— BAG – OFSP – UFSP (@BAG_OFSP_UFSP) March 9, 2020
On Tuesday March 3rd, 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.
In Switzerland, 55 percent of those infected have been men, while 45 percent have been women.
Switzerland's total of 268 brings it into the top ten of countries with the most infected. Four other European countries – Italy, France, Germany and Spain – also are among the top ten, as are China, South Korea, Japan, the USA and Iran.
France and Germany both have more than 1100 confirmed cases, while in Italy there are at least 7,500, with more than 200 deaths.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Travel is also being affected.
After suspending its flights to mainland China, SWISS is also reducing its services to some Italian destinations. “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.
Avoiding 'mask hysteria'
Health officials have frequently told the general public that healthy people should not wear masks and to refrain from purchasing them as they make it more difficult for sick people and medical professionals to access them.
According to the WHO, around 80 percent of people who contract the new coronavirus recover without needing special treatment.
Around one out of every six people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing.
Some 3.4 percent of cases are fatal, according to the latest WHO figures. Older people and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.