Where can you get tested for Covid-19 in your Swiss canton for free?

Switzerland has implemented a broad testing strategy for free coronavirus screening throughout the country. This is how, and where, you can get tested near you.

Where can you get tested for Covid-19 in your Swiss canton for free?
Antigen tests are now free in Switzerland. Photo by Valery Hache / AFP

The federal government is covering all costs of rapid antigen tests since March 15th.This means all residents of Switzerland can get tested free of charge, even if they  have no coronavirus symptoms.

If you need a PCR test because you have Covid symptoms, or if you were ordered by a doctor to get screened, the test will be free as well.

However, if you request a PCR test to be able to travel, you will have to pay for it yourself, according to the Federal Office of Public Health.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How will Switzerland’s free coronavirus ‘self-testing’ scheme work?

If you need an antigen test, you can request it at a pharmacy or a public testing site in, or near, your place of residence. As things stand now, the latter is a most likely venue.

That’s because out of the country’s 1,800 pharmacies, only 276 currently have the necessary protective measures in place for testing.

This site shows which pharmacies in Switzerland perform tests and whether appointments are  needed.

Where should you go if there is no testing pharmacy near you?

Ask your doctor if they perform antigen and / or PCR tests. Some do,  so you may be able to get screened there. The same goes for your local hospital.

But generally, your best bet is a local coronavirus testing centre, as their capacity, days of operation and opening times are usually better and more convenient than those of private medical practices.

You can find a location near you on your canton’s website.

Note that most, if not all, will require you to register online before coming in for a test.

The government also promised that each resident will be entitled to five free ‘self tests’ every month to be used at home. 

However, these tests are not yet available.

What is the testing situation in Switzerland right now?

In the past 14 days, over 423,470 people were tested; 5 percent were found to be positive.

That rate is lower than in neighbouring countries: 7.8 percent in France, and 6.8 in Italy and Germany.

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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”