Why doctors in Switzerland want to cut back on testing children for Covid-19?

Swiss health authorities and pediatricians are planning to test fewer children for coronavirus, which, until now, has been recommended at the slightest symptom, such as a cold or a sore throat.

Why doctors in Switzerland want to cut back on testing children for Covid-19?
Covid-19 test administered to children can be painful. Photo by FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP

Among the reasons that prompted some pediatricians want to reduce routine screening is that positive cases are very rare.

Also, intrusive nature of the procedure, which involves taking a swab of the nose and the back of the throat, is trying for young children.

“We are not going to screen a child who has just an isolated cold or conjunctivitis, because we have noticed that the positive smears are almost at zero “, the president of the group of Vaud pediatricians, Claude Bertoncini, told RTS television.

The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), in collaboration with pediatricians and cantonal doctors, will soon publish a new recommendation on testing children.

But some health professionals argue that screening must be kept up and remain a priority in the fight against Covid-19.

“The smear in the nose is a tedious process,” pediatrician Alessandro Diana, who is specialist in infectious diseases at Geneva’s university hospital (HUG) told the RTS.

“These tests are burdensome but the game is worth the effort: if you are in doubt about this disease, you should rather do a test than not do it”, he added.

READ MORE: IN NUMBERS: What is the coronavirus situation in Switzerland now? 

The HUG, as well Lausanne’s university hospital, CHUV, have observed a significant jump in screening of children in recent weeks, ever since schools re-opened in Switzerland on May 11th.

According to Katia Jaton, head of the molecular diagnostic laboratory at the Institute of Microbiology, colder weather in recent weeks and the viruses that go with it could partly explain this increase.

The debate in Switzerland over children’s susceptibility to coronavirus infections is not a new one.

Swiss health officials have insisted that young kids are not vectors of infection or transmission.

“Based on the current knowledge, few children get infected with the Covid-19 virus”, Daniel Koch, former head of the infectious diseases unit at the Federal Office of Public Health said in April. 

But there have been cases in Switzerland and elsewhere of children dying of Covid-19.

At the end of May, an infant died in a Zurich hospital, after contracting the virus while in Macedonia. 

Also in May, a nine-year-old boy, with an underlying health condition, died in France from the Kawasaki-like disease believed to be linked to coronavirus.


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What names do foreign nationals give their babies in Switzerland?

Each year for more than three decades, the Federal Statistical Office has been publishing the first names of infants born in Switzerland the previous year. It seems that foreigners favour names that are typical of their national background.

What names do foreign nationals give their babies in Switzerland?
Foreigners give their babies names that reflect their nationality. Photo by Keira Burton from Pexels

As The Local reported on Wednesday, the most popular names for newborn girls born in Switzerland in 2020 were Mia, Emma, and Mila.

For boys, Noah took the top spot, ahead of Liam and Matteo.

REVEALED: The most popular baby name in each Swiss canton

But what about the most popular names among various nationalities living in Switzerland?

The answers come from the same study.


The top name for boys of Italian parents is Giuseppe, followed by Antonio and Francesco. For girls, Maria is in the first place, Anna in the second, and Francesca in the third.


There are many Portuguese immigrants living in Switzerland and, like their Italian counterparts, they like to give their children traditional names: José, Carlos and Manuel for boys, and Maria, Ana, and Sandra for girls.


Spanish names are similar to those of Portuguese babies.

José, Juan and Jose are most popular boy names, while Maria, Ana and Laura are in the top three spots for the girls.


Most boys of Turkish descent are named Mehmet, Ali, and Mustafa. Among girls, Fatma, Ayse, and Elif dominate.


Arben, Vallon, and Bekim are top names for boys, and Fatime, Shquipe, and Merite for girls.


Bekim is in the first place for boys, followed by Muhamed and Fatmir. Among girls, Fatimr is in the lead, Sara in the second place, and Emine in the third.


Aleksandar, Dragan and Nicola take the first three spots. For the girls, Jelena, Maria and Snezana are at the top.

Can you give your baby any name you want?

Not in Switzerland, you can’t. It’s important to keep in mind that the cantonal registry offices, where new births must be announced, don’t have to accept very unusual names.

Several years ago, for instance, a Zurich court ruled that parents can’t name their infant daughter ‘J’.

In another case, a couple in the canton of Bern were ordered to change the name of their newborn son because their choice – Jessico – was considered too feminine. 

Several names have been forbidden in Switzerland, including Judas, Chanel, Paris and Mercedes.