From July 6th, Switzerland put in place a mandatory quarantine requirement for arrivals from ‘high-risk’ countries.
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, with the list subject to continual review.
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 updated the list, adding 15 countries and removing two – Sweden and Belarus – from the list.
There are now 42 countries from which arrivals must quarantine when entering Switzerland.
Originally, the government said the newly listed countries would be subject to a quarantine from midnight on July 22nd.
However, in an interview late on Wednesday, Stefan Kuster from the Federal Office of Public Health said people who had already returned from the added countries would be required to quarantine.
Speaking with Swiss media outlet 20 Minutes, Kuster said the quarantine would apply to people who travelled to any of the countries before they were announced – or to anyone who has returned home from these countries recently.
“The regulation applies retrospectively”, said Kuster.
“When you go on vacation, you have to be aware that things can go wrong.”
Effectively, this means that anyone who has returned from these countries recently must go into quarantine as of midnight on July 22nd, until at ten days from their arrival date.
For example, someone who returned from Mexico or Bosnia and Herzegovina on July 20th and has already been in the community must go into quarantine from midnight until July 30th.
Which countries were added to the list?
In total, 15 countries or territories were added to the list, the majority of which came from outside Europe.
These are (in order of highest infection rate to lowest infection rate): Kyrgyzstan, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Kazakstan, Costa Rica, Maldives, Palestine, Guatemala, Suriname, Eswatini, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ecuador, Mexico, El Salvador and the United Arab Emirates.
Which countries were removed?
Sweden and Belarus were removed from the list.
Sweden had been added due to its high infection rate, a result of the country's refusal to follow its neighbours into lockdown.
Sweden last week retaliated by issuing travel advice to its citizens to avoid Switzerland, which the government admitted was made as a political move.
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.
Was this announcement surprising?
Somewhat, yes – but mainly because the government appears to be ignoring its own metrics. Reporting in Swiss media – as reported by The Local Switzerland on Tuesday – showed that 18 countries had met the Swiss government's internal metric.
Only 15 of these were added to the list, with North Macedonia, Puerto Rico and Seychelles left off.
Adding the new countries to those previously on the list – while removing Sweden and Belarus – the current list of 42 countries is as follows: Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eswatini, Guatemala, Honduras, Iraq, Israel, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Maldives, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Oman, Palestine, Panama, Peru, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Suriname, Serbia, South Africa, Turks and Caicos Islands, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.