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HEALTH

‘Only those with plastic visors were infected’: Swiss government warns against face shields

After a coronavirus outbreak where only those wearing plastic visors were infected, the Swiss government has said plastic shields are inadequate protection and should only be worn in combination with a face mask.

‘Only those with plastic visors were infected’: Swiss government warns against face shields
Findings from Switzerland show face shields provide little protection for wearers or for others. Photo: ANDER GILLENEA / AFP

Health officials in the canton of Graubünden studying a recent outbreak among staff at a hotel found a worrying trend – all of those who were infected wore plastic face shields, while those who avoided infection wore face masks. 

Several employees of the hotel tested positive along with a guest. 

Rudolf Leuthold, head of the cantonal health department in Graubünden, said the face shields were the common denominator in infections.

“It has been shown that only those employees who had plastic visors were infected. There was not a single infection among employees with a mask.” 

Leuthold told Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes that a guest of the hotel was also infected: “We know that the guest was served by employees with plastic visors.” 

Government warns against plastic face shields

On Tuesday, the cantonal health authorities in Graubünden spoke out against plastic face shields

Cantonal doctor Marina Jamnicki said not only are plastic face shields less effective than face masks, they may provide wearers with a false sense of security. 

Plastic face shields should be worn in tandem with a face mask, say cantonal authorities.

The Federal Office of Public Health agreed on Wednesday, pointing to increased infections among those who wear face shields. 

Spokesman Yann Hulmann told 20 Minutes “the visors do not serve as an alternative to hygiene masks. Visors can be worn with masks to further enhance your own protection.” 

The federal government is considering amending the rules for hospitality workers to require masks, although an announcement will only be made pursuant to a review. 

Swiss officials in late July reiterated that plastic visors are no replacement for face masks in preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

Daniel Dauwalder, spokesperson for the Federal Office of Public Health, told The Local that the government's official position was that visors are “no substitute for face masks”.

“They protect the eyes from possible infection through droplets, but the possibility of infection via the nose or mouth cannot be excluded,” Dauwalder said.

“Visors only serve as a complementary form of protection measure in conjunction with a mask.”

 

Member comments

  1. This is a very misleading headline and will embolden anti-maskers.
    PLEASE correct the headline to “Swiss government has said plastic shields are inadequate protection and should only be worn in combination with a face mask.” or similar.
    this is Irresponsible in such a dangerous pandemic.

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TAXES

Masks, tests and jabs: Can I deduct Covid-related costs from my taxes in Switzerland?

Switzerland’s tax deadline is just around the corner. Are Covid-related costs tax deductible?

Masks, tests and jabs: Can I deduct Covid-related costs from my taxes in Switzerland?

March 31st is the deadline for filing taxes in Switzerland relating to the 2021 financial year. 

Over the past two years, the Covid pandemic has seen a change in our spending habits. 

While we may have saved on restaurants and travel, we laid out considerable costs on a range of new expenses, including disinfectant, masks and Covid tests. 

As some of these costs are required by law, can they be deducted from your tax?

In some cases, expenses directly related to the Covid pandemic can be deducted. 

Masks, for instance, can be deducted as medical expenses in some cantons, Swiss tax specialist Markus Stoll told 20 Minutes

This depends on the specific framework for tax deductions related to medical expenses in that canton. 

EXPLAINED: What can I deduct from my tax bill in Switzerland?

Generally speaking, any medical costs paid out of pocket can be deducted. However, most cantons impose a minimum percentage limit from which these costs can be deducted. 

In many cantons, this will start at five percent of your yearly income in total (i.e. including other out-of-pocket costs like dental or specialist visits), meaning you would need to purchase a significant amount of masks to beat the threshold. 

What about testing and vaccination?

Testing and vaccinations however were largely free as their costs were covered by the Swiss government, which means associated expenses cannot be deducted. 

Those tests which were not covered by the government – for instance for travel abroad or for visiting clubs – cannot be deducted, Stoll says. 

“Tests for travel abroad or to visit clubs are not deductible” Stoll said. 

For a complete overview of taxation in Switzerland, including several specific guides, please check out our tax-specific page here. 

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