Omicron in Switzerland: Vaccinated people also have to quarantine

Anyone in Switzerland who has had close contact with a person infected with the new variant must quarantine for 10 days, regardless of their vaccination status. Here’s why.

Exposure to the Omicron variant means a 10-day quarantine, even for the vaccinated. Photo: KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / AFP
Exposure to the Omicron variant means a 10-day quarantine, even for the vaccinated. Photo: KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / AFP

As Omicron is relatively new in Europe and Switzerland, health officials don’t yet know whether vaccines offer effective protection against it.

This is especially pertinent as one of the three Swiss residents infected with the variant — a 19-year-old student from Basel — was fully vaccinated against Covid.

READ MORE: First Omicron cases detected in Switzerland

Even if there is a mere suspicion of Omicron contagion, people have to remain in quarantine for 10 days as a precautionary measure against inadvertently spreading the new strain of the virus.

During this time they must stay home and not leave the house for any reason.

While previously it was possible to be released from the quarantine after seven days if a test result was negative, early termination by means of a test is not an option right now.

“We don’t recommend this at the moment,” said Patrick Mathys , head of the crisis management section at the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

This is unlike contact with known variants of the virus, where vaccinated people are not required to quarantine. 

More than 100 people in Switzerland are in quarantine now due to the exposure to Omicron.

Among them are classmates and others who had been in contact with the Basel student, as well as those who could have contracted it from the two people in Geneva who both tested positive after returning from South Africa.

In addition, a number of cases are currently being clarified in more detail in Switzerland, though FOPH doesn’t yet know if they are due to Omicron or Delta, the latter being the predominant virus in the country right now.

So do we have to assume that there are numerous other undiscovered Omikron cases in Switzerland?

It is a possibility.

“It could be that the variant is actually more widespread in Switzerland than we know today”, according to Thomas Steffen, cantonal doctor in Basel.

Right now, health authorities are busy investigating whether “they are individual cases or the first clusters.”

If you are entering Switzerland from certain countries, you must quarantine as well. These links provide more information about this requirement for travellers.

UPDATE: What are the current rules for entering Switzerland?

Can travellers land in Switzerland and transit elsewhere under new Covid rules?

KEY POINTS: What are the new Covid travel rules between Switzerland and the UK?

Member comments

  1. I guess this rule will make people less willing to test, no one wants to be the one locking friends or colleagues up for ten days.

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‘Over a million people’ in Switzerland could be infected with Covid this summer

Though Covid has not been a nationwide problem in Switzerland during recent several months, the virus is circulating again and rates of contamination are expected to soar in the coming weeks.

'Over a million people' in Switzerland could be infected with Covid this summer

While the new wave has not been expected to hit before fall or winter,  Swiss health officials now say 15 percent of Swiss population — more than 1 million people — could catch the virus before then.

This is a large number, considering that a total of 3.7 million people in Switzerland got infected since the beginning of the pandemic on February 24th, 2020.

“More than 80,000 new contaminations per week” are expected in the next two months, according to Tanja Stadler, the former head of the Covid-19 Task Force — much more than during the past two summers, when the rate of infections slowed down.

At the moment, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) reports 24,704 new cases in the past seven days — double of what it was in April.

“The numbers are expected to continue to rise. Note that most of infected people will not be tested, so the number of confirmed cases will be smaller on paper than in reality”, Stadler added.

Although according to FOPH, nearly all cases in Switzerland (99 percent) are caused by Omicron and its sub-variants, which are less severe that the original Covid viruses, “more vulnerable people are likely to end up in hospital, and long Covid cases are also likely to rise”, she said.

Stadler also noted that Omicron virus can’t be compared with the flu, “because we observe long-term consequences much more often during an infection with Omicron than during the flu. Also, Covid can trigger very large waves, even in summer, while large flu outbreaks are rare at this time of year”.

There is, however, some positive news.

“The most recent data shows that 97 percent of the adult population in Switzerland has antibodies against Covid thanks to vaccinations and previous infections”, Stadler said.

Also, “in the long term, things will stabilise. But in the years to come, there will probably be waves in the summer too”.

READ MORE: UPDATE: When will Switzerland roll out second Covid boosters?