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HEALTH

Where coronavirus infections are increasing in Switzerland – and why

Why are infection rates on the rise in Switzerland- and where are most of the new cases?

Where coronavirus infections are increasing in Switzerland - and why
Where in Switzerland is the coronavirus pandemic rearing its head again? Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

After weeks of declining infections across the country, there has been a significant increase of new cases in the past 72 hours. 

Why are infections increasing?

Swiss authorities have called for calm over the new infections, saying they represent a small time period and are not indicative of a broader change. 

The FOPH told 20 Minutes “the time period is too short to even speak of a trend”. 

Marcel Tanner from the Swiss Government's federal task force, said a major reason was complacency. 

“People are struggling more and more to consistently adhere to the measures. In addition, mobility and – especially during the autumn holidays – travel activity in the country itself has increased.”

Epidemiologist Emma Hodcroft told 20 Minutes that declining temperatures may be behind the rising rates. 

“In the last week and a half, the temperatures have dropped significantly. I wouldn't be surprised if this changed people's behaviour,” she said. 

“You meet more friends inside, close the windows and heat the interior. All of this could lead to a higher risk of infection.”

More measures in fall and autumn? 

Experts were split on whether rising infections should lead to greater lockdown restrictions. 

The GDK said the priority was enforcing existing rules like masks and social distancing, but others such as again banning large events should be considered. 

“It is also possible for the cantons to revoke or restrict a license (to hold a large event) that has already been granted under certain circumstances – for example if the epidemiological situation worsens significantly between the granting of the license and its implementation.”

Tanner however said the increases were not a cause for concern – and that the cantons should be left to manage rising infections. 

“You have to take the increase in numbers seriously, but you mustn't dramatise it,” he said. 

“We cannot expect the same restrictions to apply in the village shop in the canton of Uri as in the shopping centre in the canton of Zurich.”

Where are infections on the rise? 

If the infection rates were extrapolated across the past 14 days, Switzerland would have eight ‘high risk’ areas according to its own metrics. 

In order to set a fair and objective metric for placing a country on the 'high-risk' list, Switzerland set the threshold at 60 infections per 100,000 residents over the past 14 days. 

This means that the total number of new infections must be calculated over the 14-day period. The cantons of Zurich, Vaud, Geneva, Bern, St Gallen, Valais, Fribourg and Aargau were all over the high-risk threshold (according to extrapolation). 

The following map shows the new infections (scroll over for numbers and canton name). 

READ How does Switzerland decide a country is 'high risk'? 

 

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HEALTH

Reader question: Can I put my Swiss health insurance on hold if I’m abroad?

Given how expensive health insurance premiums are in Switzerland, you may be tempted to suspend your policy while you are abroad. Is this possible?

Reader question: Can I put my Swiss health insurance on hold if I'm abroad?

Unlike the obligatory car insurance, which you can suspend temporarily by depositing your registration plates at the local motor vehicles office, rules pertaining to health insurance are much stricter.

As the Federal Office of Public Health explains it, “If you leave the country for a certain period to travel or study but do not take up residence abroad, you are still required to have [health] insurance in Switzerland”.

In other words, as long as you are a registered resident of Switzerland, regardless of your nationality or passport, you must keep your compulsory Swiss health insurance and pay your premiums. While you do this, you also remain covered against most medical emergencies while you travel.

However, rules are less stringent for supplemental health plans which can, in some cases, be put on hold, depending on the insurance provider, according to Switzerland’s Moneyland consumer website.

The only exception allowed for suspending the health insurance coverage is during a military or civil protection service which lasts more than 60 consecutive days.

“During these periods, the risks of illness and accident are covered by military insurance. Your health insurance provider will refund your premiums”, according to FOPH.

Under what circumstances can you cancel your Swiss health insurance?

Swiss law says you can cancel your insurance if you are moving abroad, either permanently for for a period exceeding three months.

If you do so, only claims for treatments given while you still lived in Switzerland will be paid by your insurance; any medical bills for treatment incurred after you officially leave will be denied.

These are the procedures for cancelling your compulsory health insurance if you leave the country under conditions mentioned above

To announce your departure abroad, you must send your insurance carrier a letter including your name, customer number or AVS/AHV number.

You must also include a certificate from your place of residence in Switzerland confirming that you have de-registered from your current address, as well as the date of your departure.

Note, however, that if your new destination is another Swiss community / canton, rather than a foreign country, your insurance can only be cancelled from the following calendar year and only if you present proof of having taken up a new policy with another company.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to register your address in Switzerland

You can find out more information about this process here

If you suspend your health insurance for less than six years, you can reactivate it at a later date with the same company when you return to Switzerland.

READ MORE : What you should know about your Swiss health insurance before you go abroad
 

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