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Will France be placed on Switzerland’s coronavirus quarantine list?

According to projections from the University of Geneva, arrivals from France may have to quarantine on arrival in Switzerland in the coming days.

Will France be placed on Switzerland’s coronavirus quarantine list?
This photograph taken on April 17, 2020, shows concrete blocks closing the border adorned with graffiti reading 'Our fate depends on your choice' and 'Stay home'. Photo: AFP

France’s infection rates have almost doubled in the previous week. 

The University of Geneva set up a forecasting model which predicts that the infection rate will continue to rise in the coming weeks, eventually crossing the Swiss government's quarantine threshold. 

They now stand at 43 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants – just shy of Switzerland’s quarantine threshold of 60 per 100,000. 

As of August 21st, there are more than 50 countries with an infection rate above Switzerland’s threshold of ‘high risk’. 

UPDATED: Who can enter Switzerland right now? 

With the situation in France escalating, there is the chance the government will impose a mandatory quarantine of ten days on all arrivals – which would create significant problems due to the economic and social connections of the countries. 

An estimated 180,000 residents of France cross the border daily into Switzerland to work, with the majority working in Geneva, Vaud and Basel City. 

The government has not yet indicated whether it would require cross-border workers to quarantine, however special concessions have been made for cross-border workers since the start of the pandemic

Tens of thousands of Swiss also cross the border into France to go shopping, with a quarantine meaning that anyone who entered France – even if just for the purposes of shopping – would be required to quarantine for ten days upon their return. 

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

A representative of the Department of Economic, Social and Environmental Affairs told Swiss media outlet 20 Minutes that “shopping in France would not be possible” if a quarantine came into place. 

Other countries including the Netherlands, Libya, Lebanon and Paraguay are also approaching Switzerland’s quarantine threshold. 

While the government said the list would be updated monthly when it was first implemented, however so far updates have been made immediately as a country crosses the threshold. 

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HEALTH

WHO says European festivals should go ahead despite monkeypox risk

Most new cases of monkeypox are currently detected in Western Europe. The World Health Organisation says this is no reason to cancel more than 800 festivals scheduled to take place on the continent this summer.

WHO says European festivals should go ahead despite monkeypox risk

The World Health Organization said Friday that European summer festivals should not be cancelled due to the monkeypox outbreak but should instead manage the risk of amplifying the virus.

A surge of monkeypox cases has been detected since May outside of the West and Central African countries where the disease has long been endemic.

Most of the new cases have been in Western Europe.

More than 3,200 confirmed cases and one death have now been reported to the WHO from 48 countries in total this year.

“We have all the summer festivals, concerts and many other events just starting in the northern hemisphere,” Amaia Artazcoz, the WHO’s mass gatherings technical officer, told a webinar entitled “Monkeypox outbreak and mass gatherings: Protecting yourself at festivals and parties”.

The events “may represent a conducive environment for transmission”, she said.

“These gatherings have really close proximity and usually for a prolonged period of time, and also a lot of frequent interactions among people,” Artazcoz explained.

“Nevertheless… we are not recommending postponing or cancelling any of the events in the areas where monkeypox cases have been identified.”

Sarah Tyler, the senior communications consultant on health emergencies at WHO Europe, said there were going to be more than 800 festivals in the region, bringing together hundreds of thousands of people from different countries.

“Most attendees are highly mobile and sexually active and a number of them will have intimate skin-to-skin contact at or around these events,” she said.

“Some may also have multiple sexual contacts, including new or anonymous partners. Without action, we risk seeing a surge in monkeypox cases in Europe this summer.”

Risk awareness

The UN health agency recommends that countries identify events most likely to be associated with the risk of monkeypox transmission.

The WHO urged festival organisers to raise awareness through effective communication, detect cases early, stop transmission and protect people at risk.

The outbreak in newly-affected countries is primarily among men who have sex with men, and who have reported recent sex with new or multiple partners, according to the WHO.

People with symptoms are advised to avoid attending gatherings, while people in communities among whom monkeypox has been found to occur more frequently than in the general population should exercise particular caution, it says.

The normal initial symptoms of monkeypox include a high fever, swollen lymph nodes and a blistery chickenpox-like rash.

Meg Doherty, from the global HIV, hepatitis and sexually-transmitted infection programmes at WHO, said: “We are not calling this a sexually-transmitted infection.

“Stigmatising never helps in a disease outbreak,” she added.

“This is not a gay disease. However, we want people to be aware of what the risks are.”

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