‘More than half don’t comply’: Switzerland announces stricter quarantine checks

‘More than half don’t comply’: Switzerland announces stricter quarantine checks
A border control point at the Swiss border with Italy. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP
With new figures showing less than half of those who arrive from high-risk countries actually enter quarantine, Switzerland has announced it will randomly check whether people are complying with the rule.

In early July, Switzerland announced a new quarantine requirement for all arrivals from high-risk countries. 

However, according to NZZ am Sonntag, less than half of the people returning from these countries actually self-quarantine. 

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

Based on official numbers, the newspaper calculated that some 6,000 people arrived from countries at risk in recent weeks. But only 2,328 reported their return to cantonal health authorities and complied with the quarantine requirement.

The authorities initially said that informing the local health department of one’s return from a country at risk would be voluntary and based on individual and social responsibility.

Given the wide non-compliance with the quarantine rule, officials now say they will carry out random checks on flights and buses arriving in Switzerland.

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

Patrick Mathys, the head of The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) told RTS television that passenger lists from 20 to 30 weekly flights arriving from risk countries are now being given to the cantons. 

Cantonal health offices will then follow up on the lists to ensure that travellers are quarantined.

“I think we need to send a signal that at least random checks are taking place”, said Basel cantonal doctor Thomas Steffen.

FOPH estimated that about 10 percent of coronavirus cases in Switzerland are imported by people returning from abroad.

'The situation could quickly get out of control'

Rudolf Hauri, one of Switzerland's top cantonal doctors, told the NZZ that more needed to be done to ensure arrivals were complying with the quarantine requirement. 

Hauri, from the canton of Zug, said travellers needed to understand the scope of their actions. 

“The need to understand that it can affect everyone” Hauri said. 

“If we can no longer maintain the current situation due to an increase in the number of infections, the situation could quickly get out of control.”

'High-risk countries'

The requirement was put in place for those returning to Switzerland from countries considered as unsafe because of the high number of Covid-19 infections there. 

These nations are 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.

People from these regions must inform local health authorities of their arrival in Switzerland and stay in quarantine at home for 10 days, without going out or receiving guests.

 


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