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Could Switzerland reintroduce post-travel quarantine?

Could Switzerland reintroduce post-travel quarantine?
Travel quarantine is still up in the air. Photo by Zurich Airport
With the number of Covid infections and hospitalisations soaring, Swiss health officials are urging the government to bring back the quarantine requirement for travellers entering the country from abroad.

Given the worsening epidemiological situation in the country, some health officials are calling for the travel quarantine to be re-implemented.

“We have imported a number of infections”, said Patrick Mathys, head of the crisis management section at the Federal Department of Public Health (FOPH), urging the Federal Council to consider reintroducing quarantine after arrival in Switzerland.

And Lukas Engelberger, president of the association of cantonal health directors, also stated that “we must seriously consider reintroducing quarantine on return from travel”.

The reason for these calls is the increasing number of people recently admitted to Swiss hospitals with Covid.

READ MORE: Swiss hospitals: Sharp increase in the number of Covid patients in intensive care

Nearly 40 percent of these patients became infected while holidaying abroad, according to Urs Karrer, a member of the Covid-19 Task Force.

Nicolas Müller, Chief Physician at the Infectious Diseases Clinic at Zurich University Hospital, said that “holidays play a big role” in skyrocketing infections.

“We treat a lot of vacationers returning from travel”, he noted. 

This is in line with a finding in July, when contact tracers in Zurich saw that half of the canton’s contaminations were detected among tourists, especially those returning from Spain, but also from Greece.

Health professionals and cantonal public health offices confirm that a significant number of these coronavirus patients currently treated in Swiss hospitals are unvaccinated foreigners who have returned from holidays in their home countries, particularly in the Balkans.

“We have a high proportion of patients with a migration background. Some did not want to be vaccinated. Others did not know that they should have been vaccinated”, said Hans Pargger, head of the intensive care unit at the University Hospital Basel.

READ MORE: Why are most Covid patients in Switzerland foreign nationals?

Switzerland no longer has quarantine requirements for travellers; a vaccination certificate or a negative test result are sufficient to be allowed into the country.

But some people are believed to be travelling with fake immunity passes.

However, quarantines as a result of being exposed to an infected person or contracting the virus are still obligatory, for either 10 or seven days.

Will the government reintroduce the travel quarantine?

At this point, the Federal Council has not said either way.

It is most likely that the first restrictive measure authorities will impose to curb the spread of the virus — particularly the dominant Delta strain — will be to extend the use to the Covid certificate to bars, restaurants and possibly other venues.

READ MORE: Bars, restaurants and events: Which Swiss cantons want stricter Covid certificate rules?

After that, quarantines may be reimposed if case numbers and hospitalisations continue to climb. 


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