Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in Switzerland, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) has been issuing instructions on how to avoid being infected with Covid-19 virus, and how to protect others as well.
Authorities have also taken some drastic measures to limit exposure to the virus by banning public events of more than 1,000 people.
FOPH also announced this morning that the emergency measures taken across Ticino on Wednesday will probably be extended to the rest of Switzerland, in order to protect those who are at risk.
“The rest of Switzerland will follow”, Daniel Koch, head of FOPH’s communicable diseases division told SRF radio.
So the country will soon be under more restrictive measures.
Ticino’s measures include closing of non-compulsory public and private schools such as high-schools or vocational colleges, as well nightclubs, cinemas, gyms and ski areas.
The canton also closed nine of its border points with Italy, leaving just a few crossings open for frontier workers.
Those who do not follow the regulations are liable to receive huge fines.
Not complying with the Federal Law on Epidemics — for instance, by ignoring a quarantine measure ordered by the health authorities — can result in a 5,000-franc fine.
In addition, the Swiss penal code provides for a prison sentence ranging from one to five years for people who by “baseness of character” intentionally spread a dangerous and transmissible human disease.
However, hygiene recommendations such as washing hands regularly or coughing into the crook of the elbow, are not legally binding.
The regulations are very strict because coronavirus is extremely contagious, posing a serious risk to people over the age of 65 and to those with underlying medical conditions.
In fact, the four patients who died from Covid-19 so far in Switzerland were all elderly with pre-existing health problems.
Health authorities now focus on testing and treating the ‘high-risk’ segment of the population, which includes people with high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and weakened immune system.
Younger people with no risk factors should 'self-monitor' for signs of coronavirus and quarantine themselves for five days in case of infection, FOPH said. This approach would free health infrastructure for more serious Covid-19 cases, FOPH said.