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This article was updated on Friday, May 22nd.
Main points and helpful links
- Pubs, restaurants and gyms to return sooner than expected: Switzerland's lockdown ends
- Switzerland one of the world's hardest-hit countries on per capita basis
- Switzerland backtracks on advice not to holiday abroad until 2021
- Why Switzerland is well placed to rebound from the coronavirus
- MAP: Which Swiss cantons have been most affected by coronavirus?
- How can parents in Switzerland apply for lost income?
- How to support small business in Switzerland
What's the latest news on coronavirus in Switzerland?
As at Wednesday, May 22nd, Switzerland's confirmed cases of COVID-19 stand at 30,638.
The tally crossed the 30,000 mark on Friday, May 8th.
The fatality toll has risen to to 1,901 on the basis of reporting from the cantons.
The first recorded death from the virus in Switzerland was on March 5th.
This makes the small Alpine country of 8.5 million people one of the hardest-hit by the pandemic compared to its population size.
According to cantonal figures, 27,900 people have contracted the virus and healed – although as Patrick Mathys, Head of the Crisis Management and International Cooperation Section of FOPH, has said previously, Switzerland itself does not release official figures of those who healed from the virus.
“With flu, we don't ask ourselves this. It's basically simple: either you die from the coronavirus or you recover.”
Vaud, Geneva and Ticino hardest hit by the virus
The death toll in Vaud is now 404, while there have been 344 fatalities in Ticino since the outbreak began.
The death toll in Vaud overtook that in Ticino on Saturday, April 18th, although the Italian-speaking canton remains the heaviest hit per capita.
All but two Swiss cantons have recorded at least one fatality due to the virus.
Geneva, with 275 deaths, has also been heavily hit by the virus.
Vaud has more than 5,300 confirmed infections from the virus, while the number in Geneva is above 4,900, making it the canton with the most confirmed infections on a per capita basis.
Ticino has just over 3,200 confirmed infections, although as reported by The Local Switzerland previously, the real number is likely to be much higher due to a comparative lack of testing in the canton.
Things are improving in Ticino however, with the canton recording its first day without new infections or fatalities on Tuesday, May 12th since the outbreak began.
Zurich, Switzerland’s most populous canton, has 3,500 infections – with 128 fatalities.
The rate of infection and death has been much lower in the German-speaking parts of Switzerland than the rest of the country.
The country has been trying to ramp up its testing, but Daniel Koch from the Swiss federal office of public health warned the supply was running out.
“There has been an increase in the number of tests in recent days that has pushed Switzerland's test supply to the limit,” he told reporters, saying there was a need for now to reserve testing for the most serious cases.
He said Switzerland was trying to procure more tests, but it was difficult since “the entire world is currently searching for tests”.
Lockdown measures started being wound back on April 27th, more on May 11th – and more to come on June 8th
No need to panic buy
What is the official advice for members of the 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.
Swiss health authorities also laid out a range of recommendations for avoiding the spread in the workplace, including adopting flexible working hours and working from home wherever possible.
FOPH 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
?️Neues Coronavirus: «So schützen wir uns»: BAG lanciert Informationskampagne für die Bevölkerung https://t.co/c2gFDljiDt
?️ Nouveau coronavirus : campagne d’information de l’OFSP intitulée « Voici comment nous protéger » https://t.co/gPqsrXGJLm pic.twitter.com/y6rZHGC70L
— BAG – OFSP – UFSP (@BAG_OFSP_UFSP) February 27, 2020
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.
What is coronavirus?
It's a respiratory illness which belongs to the same family as the common cold.
The outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan – which is an international transport hub – began at a fish market in late December.
According to the WHO, more than 80 percent of patients infected with the virus have mild symptoms and recover, while 14 percent develop severe diseases such as pneumonia.
The initial symptoms are not dissimilar to the common flu, as the virus belongs to the same family.
The symptoms include a cough, headache, fatigue, fever, aching and difficulty breathing.
COVID-19 is primarily spread through airborne contact or contact with contaminated objects.
Its incubation period is two to 14 days, with an average of seven days.
You can find the latest information about the coronavirus from the WHO.
In order for someone to catch the coronavirus, that person must spend more than 15 minutes within two metres of an infected person, Swiss health officials have said.
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.