Can you avoid Swiss quarantine if you test negative for coronavirus?

Can you avoid Swiss quarantine if you test negative for coronavirus?
Negative test results will not allow travellers to forgo the quarantine. Photo: AFP
Many people arriving in Switzerland from 'high-risk' countries hope that a negative coronavirus test will exempt them from the 10-day quarantine requirement. But health officials say this is not the case.

Airports in Germany and Austria offer returnees from high-risk countries a coronavirus test. If passengers show negative results, they can enter the country without a quarantine.

Even though such tests are available at Zürich’s international airport as well, “a negative test result does not exempt you from the mandatory quarantine requirement or shorten the quarantine period”, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) said on its website. 

The reason, FOPH said, is that “a negative test result does not rule out an infection” in early stages.

“It is necessary to wait at least five days for the virus to have spread in the body and for it to be detected by a smear,” health authorities added.

It is especially important to quarantine people coming from certain foreign countries because 10 percent of coronavirus infections detected in Switzerland in recent weeks were contracted abroad, FOPH noted.

READ MORE: How to register for self-quarantine in Switzerland

The 10-day quarantine, which went into effect in Switzerland at the beginning of July, applies to arrivals from 42 nations, including the United States, where the rate of Covid-19 infections is high.

The only people who can be excluded from the quarantine obligation are health care workers, as there is shortage of medical personnel at Swiss hospitals. 

Everyone else must register with their cantonal health authorities within 48 hours of arrival in Switzerland and stay in quarantine in their homes or in another accommodation for 10 days. The contact details of each traveller are collected on flights and buses arriving in Switzerland from high-risk countries.

Local authorities will carry out random checks to ensure compliance.

Those found breaking the rules could be fined up to 10,000 francs.

Right now, about 9,000 people who arrived from at-risk areas are quarantined .


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