Blood study shows five percent of Genevans have contracted coronavirus

Five percent of Geneva residents - approximately 27,000 people - have contracted the coronavirus, according to an antibody study which shows that the virus is much more widespread than previously thought.

Blood study shows five percent of Genevans have contracted coronavirus
A bench in Geneva. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

The test shows that 5.5 percent – or just over one in 20 – residents have been infected with Covid-19. 

The number is more than five times higher than the 4,700 confirmed infections as per cantonal authorities. 

Official figures suggest that approximately 28,000 people in the entire country have been infected, giving rise to speculation that the real number of infected Swiss is much higher. 

READ MORE: What is the real count of coronavirus infections in Switzerland? 

The study began on April 6th and will continue to the end of May, eventually testing 5,600 people. 

The researchers have a capacity to test approximately 200 people per hour to see if they have previously been infected with Covid-19. 

The goal of the study is to get an insight into how widely the virus has spread throughout the population, thereby producing valuable data as to the true mortality rate of the virus as well as strategies for developing so-called herd immunity among the population. 

The official infection numbers of a variety of countries have been cast in significant doubt, as countries with deficient testing regimes will not be able to properly identify how many cases actually exist in the population. 

Official figures are also heavily reliant on accurate government reporting, which can be subject to political influence. 

For instance, recent studies have indicated that the actual infection count in China, where the outbreak began, is four times higher than currently reported. 



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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