Dozen more Swiss in coronavirus quarantine

Daniel Koch, head of infectious diseases department, federal office of public health (right) and Hans-Peter Lenz, head of the foreign ministry's crisis management department (left) on Friday Keystone / Anthony Anex

A dozen Swiss who have been on a cruise ship are due to be quarantined in Switzerland, officials say. In addition, a further five Swiss and two of their Chinese relatives are being flown back to Switzerland. 

Keystone-SDA/SRF/ilj

Daniel Koch, head of the Federal Office of Public Health’s infectious diseases department, said on Friday that around a dozen Swiss who were on the cruise liner MS Westerdam are currently in quarantine or are on their way to a 14-day quarantine in their home cantons in Switzerland.  

The MS Westerdam arrived in Cambodia on February 13 after being denied entry to other ports over the escalating coronavirus crisis. Hundreds of passengers have since tested negative for the virus, known as COVID-19, and are being sent home. 

However, there was one positive test on a departing passenger, but this person does not live in Switzerland, Koch said. None of the Swiss had tested positive for the coronavirus, nor were they showing any symptoms, he told reporters at the health office’s weekly briefing. 

More returns from Wuhan 

Earlier on Friday it was announced that a further five Swiss citizens and two of their Chinese relatives had been flown out of the Chinese region around Wuhan, the hub of the coronavirus outbreak, on a flight organised by France. The group will be brought back from Paris and will also be subject to a 14-day quarantine, Hans-Peter Lenz, head of crisis management at the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), said at the press conference.  

A previous group of Swiss and their families returning from China had to sit out their quarantine in France. They have since returned to Switzerland.  

+ Swiss return from coronavirus quarantine in France 

Koch refused to say where the members of the new quarantine group were, in order to protect them from the media spotlight. “They don’t need ten cameras on top of it all,” Koch said. He would only say that several cantons were affected by the isolation measures. 

Diamond Princess  

On Thursday two Swiss passengers were allowed to leave another cruise liner, the Diamond Princess, moored off the shore of Japan, which has been heavily affected by the coronavirus. “They are in good health and are now preparing to return to Switzerland. The Swiss Embassy in Tokyo is in regular contact with them,” the FDFA said on its website on Friday.  They will also be in isolation in Switzerland. This brings the total in quarantine in Switzerland to above 20.

In China there have now been more than 75,000 cases of coronavirus infection, with official figures putting the number of deaths at 2,236. Outside China, there have now been around 1,200 infections and 11 deaths in 27 countries. Cases are on the rise in South Korea. There are no confirmed cases in Switzerland. 

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