'Why aren't Swiss authorities recommending masks?'... and other coronavirus questions

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'Why aren't Swiss authorities recommending masks?'... and other coronavirus questions
Berset answered questions from public about Covid-19's evolution, Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

During a live broadcast on RTS television on Thursday, Daniel Koch, head of the infectious diseases unit at the Federal Office of Public Health, and Health Minister Alain Berset, answered calls from listeners about the plans for controlling Covid-19 outbreak in Switzerland.


The Local chose five questions and answers which are likely to be most pertinent to our readers.

Q: When will serological tests to determine the level of immunity to Covid-19 become available in Switzerland?

Daniel Koch: For the time being, these tests are still in the trial phase. But we expect them to be available commercially very soon. We will then be able to test people to detect antibodies in their blood.


However, we don’t know enough about coronavirus at this time to be absolutely sure whether the immunity is temporary or permanent.

Q: How are you planning to de-confine the population at the end of April? Which measures will be taken first?

Alain Berset: It is a very sensitive process and we are still discussing the details. But we do know that the first restrictions to be lifted will not be the ones generating a massive movement of people or large gatherings.

Initial easing will be implemented in the sectors where it is possible to continue to practice protective measures such as proper hygiene and social distancing.

Q. Will there be a second wave of coronavirus infections in Switzerland this fall, as some experts predict?

Daniel Koch: We can’t exclude another wave later this year, it is really difficult to predict right now. It depends on many factors, including how many people in Switzerland will develop immunity to Covid-19.

READ MORE: Swiss health insurers 'won't hike insurance premiums' despite coronavirus 

Q: Masks are recommended in many countries, why not in Switzerland?

Daniel Koch: In our experience, masks don’t provide protection for healthy people and they should be used only by health professionals and patients. But if there will be evidence that masks are indeed helpful, we will change our recommendations accordingly.

Alain Berset: Masks may give a false sense of security. People may think that since they are wearing one, they don’t have to keep their distance from others or wash they hands frequently.

Q: When a vaccine is developed, will it be obligatory in Switzerland?

Alain Berset: Swiss law does not allow us to force someone to get vaccinated against their will. But we can require that certain professionals, for instance those who work in the health sector, get immunised. If they refuse, they will not be able to work in this field. We would hope to resolve this problem pragmatically, as we’ve always done in our country.

READ MORE: Why do Switzerland’s German and French speakers disagree about easing of Covid-19 restrictions?




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