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EXPLAINED: What are Switzerland’s quarantine rules?

Arrivals from 'high risk' countries will be required to quarantine in Switzerland. Here's what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: What are Switzerland's quarantine rules?
Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

NOTE: Switzerland updated its high-risk country list from February 1st onwards. Please click here for updated information. 

People from certain ‘high risk’ countries entering Switzerland will be required to quarantine. 

Anyone required to quarantine must do so for a ten-day period. 

The Swiss government recommends you keep 1.5 metres distance from people, wear a mask and avoid public transport. 

Information on mask rules can be found here

The countries on Switzerland’s quarantine list are being constantly updated. Check the following link for updated information. 

EXPLAINED: Which countries are currently on Switzerland’s quarantine list?

When arriving in Switzerland, you are required to contact the cantonal health authorities within two days. This can be done at the following link

Even if you have evidence of a negative test, you will still be required to quarantine for ten days. 

For ten days after your arrival in Switzerland you must stay in your home or other suitable accommodation without going out. 

You are required to avoid contact with other people. 

You may leave quarantine after ten days only if you do not have symptoms. 

The Swiss government has put together detailed quarantine guidance in English which can be found here

Anyone who fails to quarantine for a ten-day period will be subject of a fine of up to 10,000 Swiss francs (£8,259). 

More information is available in English here

 

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HEALTH

Reader question: Can Brits in Switzerland donate blood?

For many years, people coming from the United Kingdom were banned from donating their blood in Switzerland. This is what the situation is right now.

Reader question: Can Brits in Switzerland donate blood?

The ‘blood ban’ that extended to British citizens or those of any nationality who had lived in the UK (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland), was implemented for safety purposes.

The reason was the so-called mad cow disease (BSE), which was particularly rampant in Great Britain in the 1980s and 1990s.

Many people contracted and even died from the cattle-borne condition known scientifically as Creutzfeld-Jakob disease.

It is believed that one in 2,000 people in the UK is a carrier of the disease. 

While most of them got BSE from eating contaminated beef, “experience tells us that the disease could be transmitted from human to human via blood”, according to a BBC report.

As a result, a number of governments, including the Swiss, prohibited people from the UK to donate blood.

However, this rule is no longer in force in Switzerland.

According to Geneva’s university hospital (HUG), which is a member of the national blood transfusion network Blutspende and follows the same rules, only people who had lived in the UK between 1980 and 1996 for more than six months at a stretch still can’t donate blood.

This is a period when the BSE outbreak was at its worst in the UK.

If you had lived in Great Britain prior to or after that date, you can safely donate your blood.

Have there been any BSE cases in Switzerland?

About 465 cases had been reported in Switzerland between 1990 and 2020, with less than 20 deaths.

There are still isolated cases of BSE throughout Europe, but they are no longer a cause for as much concern as previously.

Can everyone donate blood in Switzerland?

Gay men are still not allowed to do so.

Under Swiss law, any man who has had sex with another man is prevented from donating blood for 12 months — the legislation was introduced during the the AIDS pandemic in the 1980s, while the 12-month rule was introduced in 2017.

However, in March 2020, the National Council’s Commission for Social Security and Health said the rule was “no longer appropriate” and filed a motion to rescind it. 

READ MORE: Switzerland to clear way for gay and bisexual men to donate blood

Who else is prevented from donating blood?

According to Blutspende, these medical and other conditions disqualify people from donating blood in Switzerland:

  • Positive test for HIV (AIDS), syphilis, hepatitis C and hepatitis B
  • Prostitution
  • Past or present drug use by injection
  • Blood transfusion after 01.01.1980

These reasons could be a cause for deferral though not an outright ban:

  • Stay during the past six months in a region where malaria is endemic, without any health problem (in case of illness with fever, tell the doctor at the blood donation centre).
  • Suffering from a sexually transmitted disease during the past 12 months
  • Change of sexual partner during the past four months
  • Sexual intercourse with multiple partners during the past 12 months
  • Stay of six months or longer in the past 12 months in countries with a high HIV-prevalence

More information about blood donation in Switzerland can be found here.

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