SHARE
COPY LINK

COVID-19

Swiss President tests positive as Covid rules lifted

President Ignazio Cassis has tested positive for Covid-19, the government said on Thursday -- the same day Switzerland lifted almost all remaining coronavirus restrictions despite high case numbers.

Swiss President and Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP
Swiss President and Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Wednesday’s “test came back positive and the president went into self-isolation this morning as soon as he learned of the test result,” a government statement said.

“Mr Cassis has no symptoms and is in good health.”

The former cantonal doctor, aged 60, who holds the annually-rotating Swiss presidency alongside his foreign affairs brief, will return to his office next week.

EXPLAINED: Who is Switzerland’s new President Ignazio Cassis?

Cassis struck an upbeat tone on Wednesday as he announced Switzerland was joining European countries including Austria, Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway in dropping almost all of Covid-19 restrictions.

“The light is definitely there on the horizon,” he told a press conference, adding it was time to “learn to live with the virus”.

“We shouldn’t be afraid of a return to normal, but we shouldn’t be too enthusiastic either,” he said.

Q&A: Everything you need to know about Switzerland relaxing Covid measures

The only remaining coronavirus requirements in Switzerland are the obligation to self-isolate for five days after a positive test and to wear masks on public transport and in healthcare institutions.

To enter the country, it is no longer necessary to provide proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test, or complete an entry form.

ANALYSIS: Switzerland ends most Covid restrictions — but what’s next?

Switzerland, population 8.6 million, has registered more than 2.6 million Covid-19 cases and over 12,500 deaths during the pandemic.

At around 20,000 a day, recorded new infections are now around half of the peak witnessed towards the end of January.

However, the case rate is still higher than in the surrounding European Union. Nearly 69 percent of Swiss residents are fully vaccinated and 41 percent have had a booster dose.

Member comments

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

TRAVEL NEWS

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.”

SHOW COMMENTS