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12 Mar 2020 | 09:24 PM UTC

Switzerland: Authorities confirm 815 cases of COVID-19 as of March 12 /update 3

Switzerland confirms 815 cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) as of March 12 and closes nine border crossings with Italy on March 11; further spread of the virus expected

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CHE

Event

The Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) has confirmed at least 815 cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) nationwide, including six fatalities, as of Thursday, March 12. Due to the spread of COVID-19, FOPH classified the situation as "special" according to the Epidemics Act on Friday, February 28. Large scale events of more than 1000 people continue to be banned throughout the country until Sunday, March 15.

As of Wednesday, March 11, the Swiss government closed nine border crossings to Italy to control the influx of workers from the country. This includes the border crossings at Pedrinate, Ponte Faloppia, Novazzano Marcetto, San Pitero di Stabio, Ligornetto Cantorn, Arzo, Ponte Cremenaga, Cassinone, and Indemini.

A "state of necessity" has also been declared in the worst affected Ticino canton, located at the border with Italy, allowing authorities to implement measures to protect at-risk individuals. Schools, nightclubs, gyms, and ski areas have been closed, while the elderly are discouraged from looking after children and taking public transport.

To prevent further spread of the virus, the Swiss government has advised the public to be socially responsible by practicing good personal hygiene, social distancing, and self-quarantining when feeling unwell or after coming into contact with an infected individual.

Further international spread of the virus is expected in the near term.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia. 

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:  

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.