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HEALTH

Which countries will be added to Switzerland’s quarantine list?

On Wednesday, Swiss health officials will update the list of high-risk countries from which arrivals must adhere to a mandatory quarantine. Which countries are likely to be on the list?

Which countries will be added to Switzerland’s quarantine list?
A sign in the Lufthansa section of the terminal in Frankfurt airport, Germany. Photo: Daniel ROLAND / AFP

Editor's note: The announcement has now been made, with 15 countries added and two removed. Click here for the updated list. 

From July 6th, Switzerland put in place a mandatory quarantine requirement for arrivals from ‘high-risk’ countries. The list included 29 countries where coronavirus infection rates were high, including several from Europe. 

On Wednesday, July 22nd, the Federal Office of Public Health is set to update the list. According to reporting in Swiss media, up to 18 countries could be included on the list. 

What countries could be added to Switzerland’s mandatory quarantine list? 

During the initial quarantine announcement, Swiss health authorities said countries with more than 60 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants over the past 14 days would be added to the list. 

READ: Everything you need to know about Switzerland's quarantine requirement

In an assessment of infection rates worldwide carried out by Swiss media outlet Watson, 18 countries have exceeded this metric over the past fortnight. 

These are (in order of highest infection rate to lowest infection rate): Kyrgyzstan, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Kazakstan, Costa Rica, Maldives, Palestine, Puerto Rico, North Macedonia, Seychelles, Guatemala, Suriname, Eswatini, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ecuador, Mexico, El Salvador and the United Arab Emirates.  

READ MORE: Will Switzerland’s ‘self-enforced’ coronavirus quarantine actually work?

What about the countries already on the list? 

The Swiss government has said repeatedly that the list is subject to change, including the removal of countries who appear to have the virus under control. 

In an interview with the Tages Anzeiger on Monday, head infectious disease specialist from St Gallen Hospital Pietro Vernazza called for Sweden to be removed from the list. 

Sweden's infection rate has plunged in recent weeks and now sits just below the criteria limit, with 57 infections per 100,000 inhabitants. 

Health officials declined to say whether Sweden would be removed. 

The list currently includes: Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Chile, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Iraq, Israel, Qatar, Colombia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Moldova, North Macedonia, Oman, Panama, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Serbia, South Africa, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the United States.

The announcement is expected on July 22nd. Stay tuned to The Local Switzerland for updates. 

 

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HEALTH

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
 

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