UPDATE: What you should know about coronavirus tests in Switzerland

As an increasing number of Covid-19 cases is being recorded in Switzerland — 17,440 in the last 72 hours — it is important to know where, and under what circumstances, to seek a test.

UPDATE: What you should know about coronavirus tests in Switzerland
It's useful to know where to get tested in your canton of residence. Photo by AFP

Testing capacities vary from one canton to another — the ones with larger populations have more centres and more tests than smaller ones.

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.

Additionally, Zurich has launched a pilot program to test for the coronavirus in pharmacies. The four pharmacies taking part in the scheme are in Paradeplatz, Europaallee, Morgental Wollishofen and Regensdorf.

Two pharmacies in the canton of Schaffhausen are also offering Covid-19 screening: Apotheke zum Mohrenkönig, Stein am Rhein and Bahnhofapotheke, Schaffhausen. 

READ MORE: Zurich has launched a pilot program to test for the coronavirus in pharmacies. 

Can anyone get tested?

The screening criteria in Switzerland are 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.

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.

Also, you must immediately inform everyone you’ve been in close contact with in the days preceding your test result. 

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.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


Most PCR tests no longer free in Switzerland

As the quarantine obligation for contact persons was lifted from Thursday, Swiss government will continue to cover only a limited number of tests.

Only certain people, like elderly care home residents, will continue to have free PCR tests. Photo by PATRICK HERTZOG/ AFP
Only certain people, like elderly care home residents, will continue to have free PCR tests. Photo by PATRICK HERTZOG/ AFP

Before the new rule went into effect Wednesday at midnight, the government paid for PCR screening for contact persons — those who live with or had “regular and close” contact with someone who tested positive. 

Under the previous framework, anyone who had close contact with a Covid-positive person was required to isolate for five days. 

But since these contacts are no longer required to quarantine, their PCR tests are not covered.

However, according to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), there are a range of exceptions.

The government will continue to pay costs of screening for certain groups of people, including those living in elderly care facilities, hospital patients and healthcare workers, as well as people who are at a particularly high risk, such as those undergoing chemotherapy.

All the others will have to pay for their tests themselves; prices for PCR tests range from 110 to 195 francs, depending on the screening location and rapidity of results.

The Federal Council announced the lifting of contact quarantine on February  2nd, along with the end of the home-working obligation.

READ MORE: UPDATE: Swiss to end quarantine and working from home obligation from Wednesday

Other measures, like the Covid certificate requirement and restrictions on private meetings, could be scrapped from February 17th, provided Switzerland’s  epidemiological situation allows it.