Simonetta Sommaruga, who holds the rotating Swiss Presidency for 2020, has written an open letter to the country, calling for all people to work together to counter the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.
Sommaruga acknowledged that people’s lives have been restricted by a series of extraordinary measures enforced by the government in recent weeks under the powers of the Epidemics Acts. These include a ban on gatherings of more than five people (including CHF100 fines for those who do not abide by the rule) and the shut down of non-essential shops and services.
“These rules are important. Because they save lives. That is why we absolutely must comply with them. If the virus spreads too quickly, intensive care units in our hospitals will be overloaded. The consequences could be devastating. Now it all comes down to us,” she saidexternal link.
Sommaruga urged people aged over-65 to stay at home and for everyone to avoid unnecessary contact with others. The authorities are working to help the population, but people also need to help themselves and each other by observing the restrictions that have been imposed.
By March 20, more than 4,800 people had tested positive in Switzerland with almost 4,200 confirmed cases and a death toll of over 40.
“Not all people can stay at home,” Sommaruga added. “We need health workers, postal workers, salespeople [in stores that remain open], truck drivers, bus drivers, our farmers and the members of the army: they see that the supply [of essential goods and services] continues to work. Many thanks to you!”
“This is exactly what has always distinguished Switzerland. When push comes to shove, we are more than 26 cantons and 8.5 million people. We are one country. And we are there for each other.”