EXPLAINED: What you should do if you need a Covid-19 test in Switzerland?

EXPLAINED: What you should do if you need a Covid-19 test in Switzerland?
Each canton has its own Covid-19 testing sites. Photo by AFP
Needless to say, everyone wants to avoid the coronavirus at all costs. But where should you seek help in Switzerland if you think you may have been contaminated?

If you suspect that you have been exposed to the virus, your first thought may be to go straight to your doctor’s office or to the nearest hospital.

But you should not do that, as not all doctors perform Covid-19 tests in their practices, and smaller hospitals may not be equipped to screen outside cases.

Can anyone get tested?

The screening criteria in Switzerland is based on the guidelines set up by the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

You should get tested only if:

• You currently have the symptoms consistent with the coronavirus: high fever, shortness of breath, dry cough, or sudden loss of the sense of smell or taste.

• You have been informed by the SwissCovidApp or by contact tracing system of the cantonal medical service that you had been in contact with someone who tested positive. 

According to FOPH, the optimal time to be tested is the fifth day after contact, as before that time the results may not be accurate.

If you fall under one of the above categories, you can be tested for free.

READ MORE: Switzerland's Roche launches 15-minute coronavirus test


Where should you go to get tested?

The best resource for finding the testing facility near you is the public health service in your canton of residence.

On their websites, these health authorities have a list of places where coronavirus screening is being done, along with appointment forms that can be filled out online.

Who pays for the testing?

If FOPH’s criteria for testing is met, the government will pay the costs for all the coronavirus-related tests— not only those that detect contamination, but also the serological tests for antibodies. 

If you go for screening without a valid reason and /or a doctor’s prescription, you will be charged a flat rate of 169 francs for Covid test, and 113 francs for antibody test.

Please note that before you go, you should call the cantonal office in question on the number listed on their website, or you can phone the FOPH Infoline, 058-463-0000.

If you have just returned from a trip abroad and are feeling ill, the number to call is 058-464-44 88.

Both phone lines are manned from 6 am to 11 pm.

You will not be diagnosed or given medical advice over the phone, but will be told where to seek help in your area.

What happens if your test is positive?

Unless your condition is so dire that you require hospitalisation, you will be told to isolate at home, away from others, including your family.

The cantonal health office will contact you to explain what measures you should take to heal and to protect other members of your family from being infected. 

Health officials will monitor you until you recover fully – that is, when your repeat test comes back negative.

FOPH has produced a video that explains the process.

Please note, however, that the situation is different in the canton of Vaud, where new, more relaxed rules just went into effect. 




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