Which areas of Switzerland are worst affected by the coronavirus?

Coronavirus has officially been in Switzerland for a month. Here are the areas of the country which are the worst affected.

Which areas of Switzerland are worst affected by the coronavirus?
The empty streets of the Alpine resort of Zermatt, Photo: VALENTIN FLAURAUD / AFPa

Since being first detected in the southern canton of Ticino on February 25th, the coronavirus has now spread to all of Switzerland’s 26 cantons. 

As at Wednesday, March 25th, Switzerland has more than 10,500 confirmed cases and 149 fatalities. 

EXPLAINED: Why does Switzerland have the highest rate of confirmed coronavirus cases per capita?

UPDATE: What you need to know about the coronavirus crisis in Switzerland

While the virus has been detected all across Switzerland, some cantons have been much more heavily hit than others. 

As discussed here, Switzerland’s testing regime is one of the most extensive in the world – with only three countries (United Arab Emirates, Norway and South Korea) having tested more people per capita. 

Switzerland currently tests around 8,000 people per day for coronavirus – and has tested close to 100,000 people since the virus first broke out. 

This is one of the major reasons for why Switzerland has a higher number of cases than many other countries who have also been hit by the virus. 

While the southern canton of Ticino – which shares a border with Italy – has felt the brunt of the virus, others such as the western cantons of Vaud and Geneva have also felt significant effects. 

Note: The situation on the ground in Switzerland can change rapidly. The following figures are up to date as at Wednesday afternoon, March 25th. 

A statue of Freddie Mercury in the canton of Vaud, Switzerland. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP


The canton where the virus was first detected, Ticino, has been one of the heaviest hit in Switzerland – particularly when it comes to fatalities. 

Despite having just four percent of the Swiss population, with 60 deaths Ticino has more than 40 percent of Switzerland’s total fatalities. 

Ticino moved to close many of its border crossings with Italy as the nature of the outbreak became known, although the border has not been shuttered completely due to the large number of cross-border workers employed in the canton. 

An estimated 68,000 workers live in northern Italy but cross the border daily to work in Switzerland – many of whom work in the health sector. 

That said, Ticino’s 1,354 confirmed infections – only the fourth-most in Switzerland – shows that non-geographical factors are also relevant in where the virus is detected. 

Western Switzerland: Vaud and Geneva

Despite being the furthest cantons away from Italy, Vaud and Geneva have the most and second-most confirmed cases of the coronavirus respectively. 

As at Wednesday afternoon, 2,234 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Vaud – meaning more than one in five cases in the entire country have been detected in the canton. 

A total of 21 people have died in the canton as a result of the coronavirus. 

Geneva has 1,510 cases – or just under 15 percent of Switzerland’s total. 12 people have died in Geneva due to coronavirus. 


Switzerland’s largest canton, Zurich, has the third-most confirmed cases of coronavirus with 1,363 with seven deaths. 

Zurich was the first Swiss canton to equip all of its doctors with coronavirus tests, which may explain the high number of coronavirus infections as well as the relatively low fatality rate. 


The other cantons to be heavily hit include Bern (624 cases and six deaths), Valais (544 cases and 13 deaths) and Basel City (466 cases and eight deaths). 

The following map – updated Wednesday afternoon March 25th – shows the current situation in the cantons. 

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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