Coronavirus: Federal government to assume test costs, SwissCovid app to start on 25 June

Bern, 24.06.2020 - In order to be able to respond rapidly to a renewed increase in the number of cases, testing should be conducted as widely as is possible and appropriate. As of 25 June, the federal government will therefore be assuming the cost of all coronavirus tests. That was the decision taken by the Federal Council at its meeting on 24 June. It also adopted the Ordinance on the Proximity Tracing System for the Coronavirus. This will make it possible to for the SwissCovid app to be used across Switzerland from 25 June.

In view of the continuing low number of coronavirus cases, the Federal Council downgraded the situation from ‘extraordinary' on 19 June and eased further measures. In order to prevent a renewed increase in infections and to be able to respond rapidly to an increase in the number of cases, it is necessary to monitor the situation closely. The most important factors in breaking chains of infection are rigorous contact tracing in conjunction with widespread testing for SARS-Coronavirus-2.

No retention fee for those tested
As of 25 June, the federal government will assume the costs for tests, thereby simplifying the system. To date, the costs of coronavirus tests have been split between health insurers and the cantons. This has meant that not all patients have been treated equally. In cases where the costs were covered by compulsory health insurance, the deductible and the retention fee applied for those tested. However, where testing was covered by the cantons, those tested bore no costs. As such, there was a risk that people would be reluctant to get themselves tested if they had to bear the costs themselves. The Swiss National COVID-19 Science Task Force also recommends that the costs for tests be assumed by the federal government.

The federal government will assume the cost of tests for infection with the coronavirus and antibody tests. It will reimburse the cost of tests for SARS-Coronavirus-2 at a flat rate of 169 francs, and of antibody tests at a rate of 113 francs. The testing criteria of the Federal Office of Public Health apply. Antibody tests are not recommended at the present time.

Launch of SwissCovid app
The Federal Council also adopted the Ordinance on the Proximity Tracing System, thereby making it possible to start using the SwissCovid app. The Federal Council recommends that the public use the app, which complements classic contact tracing. Contact tracing involves identifying people who have had close contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus so that they can go into quarantine, thereby breaking chains of infection.

The SwissCovid app notifies people who have spent a certain time in close proximity to a person infected with the coronavirus, provided the app is installed and active on both persons' phones. In order to receive the notification, a person who has tested positive for the virus must enter a ‘covidcode' provided by the cantonal medical service into the app. Use of the app and entering the code are both voluntary.

If an app user has been in close contact with one or more infected individuals, they receive a message telling them that they may be infected with the new coronavirus. They are also notified of the day on which the contact took place along with details of the FOPH Infoline that they can call free of charge to obtain advice.

Anyone instructed by a doctor or the authorities to go into quarantine is entitled to compensation for loss of earnings related to the corona
pandemic. Anyone who decides voluntarily to go into quarantine after they have been notified by the SwissCovid app that they may be infected, without being required to do so by a public authority or a doctor, will not receive this compensation.

Tests did not reveal any serious problems
The app was subjected to rigorous testing for security and usability ahead of its launch. The National Cybersecurity Centre (NCSC) has been receiving reports on security issues from specialists and interested parties since 28 May. The test results and feedback have been made available on the NCSC website and are updated daily. In total 81 reports have been filed, 11 of which related to the program code. No critical or system-relevant problems came to light. The NCSC will continue to accept reports of test results following the public launch of the SwissCovid
app so that data protection and the security of the app can be assured. The Federal Statistical Office will publish anonymised data on
its website on the usage of the app.


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