How to safely resume ‘normal’ life in Switzerland, according to an expert

With the post-lockdown resumption of school activities and the reopening of shops and restaurants, the number of potential contacts — and transmission of the coronavirus —between individuals will start to rise again. But this risk can be contained if everyone follows simple rules, says one medical expert.

How to safely resume 'normal' life in Switzerland, according to an expert
Masks in trains can help prevent the spread of disease. Photo by INA FASSBENDER / AFP

In an interview on Sunday with Le Temps newspaper, Didier Pittet, the head of the infection prevention and control service at Geneva’s University Hospital (HUG), outlined measures that everyone should be taking to ensure a safe resumption of the daily routine. 

Should you accompany your child to school?

Absolutely, because children may be anxious to return to class after such a long period of confinement. Unless, of course, the child has symptoms like a cold or cough, in which case he stays at home and his parents should call the doctor.

Once you take the child to school, however, you have to let go at the entrance and let her mix with  other kids, because the risk for the parent is from the other adults, not from the pupils.

Are children at risk of being infected?

The virus will circulate among children but it does not damage their health, says the expert. And we need the virus to circulate to achieve group immunity. At that point the virus will be neutralised, and while it may cause common colds, it will not cause pneumonia, even if serious infections may still occur, he argues.

READ MORE: New Swiss studies cast doubts on theory children don't spread Covid-19 

The Department of Public Education recommends that children wash their hands when they arrive at school, before and after breaktime, before and after lunch. And as much as possible, kids should keep a distance of two metres from adults.

What precautions should be taken while using public transportation?

In trains and buses risks arise when social distancing is impossible, though it should be practiced in waiting areas. Once inside, if you cannot stay at least two metres from other passengers, wear a mask. Always disinfect your hands before putting it on, says the expert.

READ MORE: Coronavirus in Switzerland: What are the safety guidelines to follow if you take a train?

However, those who can continue working from home must do so. With fewer people using public transportation, the risk of virus transmission will be lower. This is a question of civic solidarity, which will largely determine the success of the resumption of activities.

Is it necessary to wear a mask?

If using public transportation, yes. But wearing a mask systematically is useless. When you wear a mask, you touch your face more often, which can promote contamination. In any case, always wash your hands after removing a mask.

Is it safe go to a restaurant?

If the guidelines are followed limiting the number to four people per table (except for families with children) and keeping two-metre distances between tables, then yes.

You must, however, disinfect your hands before you eat.


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