Swiss underscore hygiene rules amid rising infections

Swiss holidaymakers are expected to head to the mountains and lakes to celebrate the August 1 national day. Keystone / Laurent Gillieron

As daily infections climbed above 200, the health office launched a new campaign to remind of the ever-present Covid-19 threat. Director Pascal Strupler also said a mask requirement in shops and public spaces is recommended.

This content was published on July 30, 2020 - 15:01
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On Thursday, the Federal Office of Public Health launched a campaign reiterating the basic anti-Covid-19 hygiene rules with the main message: “the virus is still here”.

Since the easing of measures to protect the population from the novel coronavirus, individual responsibility has become more important, said the office.

With the new posters, the authorities warn not to let one’s guard down. The slogan is "The virus is also at work during the holiday season. Keep your distance!"

Pascal Strupler, the head of the health office, reiterated the hygiene guidelines including hand washing and wearing a mask when one can’t maintain the 1.5 metres distance.

Strupler also recommended a mask requirement in shops and public spaces. Mask wearing is mandatory on all public transportation in Switzerland, while some regions have also required they be worn in shops.

Rising infections

Daily new infections surpassed the 200 mark for the first time in Switzerland since the lockdown was eased. A total of 220 new cases were recorded, as well as one new death, bringing the total to 1,704 deaths. There have been 35,022 confirmed cases in Switzerland.

Patrick Mathys, who head the crisis management and international cooperation unit at the health office, said that “the numbers are creeping up and are likely to increase further. The positive infection rate is also increasing steadily.”

He added that 10% of infections are the result of travel abroad with some 6% of which due to travel in high risk countries. Some 9,000 people are currently in quarantine after returning from risk countries.

Traveling to Switzerland

The government announced that people from third countries (non-EU) can enter Switzerland if they are in a relationship with a Swiss starting on August 3. Up to now, this has only been allowed if a couple is married or has a child together. There were some exceptions for emergencies.

As other countries introduce coronavirus testing for travelers, Mathys said that for the moment the office does not plan to test people entering the country. He explained that there is still no evidence that this can reduce the number of infections. Depending on when the person is infected, it may give a false negative result.

Anyone entering Switzerland from any of the 42 "high risk" countries, including the United States, has to undergo a ten-day quarantine. Anyone who evades quarantine or fails to report to the authorities could be fined up to CHF10,000 ($10,900).

Countries are on the “high risk” list if new infections in the last 14 days has been higher than 60 per 100,000 inhabitants.

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