New coronavirus

Version: 23.2.2020

The WHO has declared the spread of the new coronavirus to be an international health emergency. Here you will find information about the current situation, in Switzerland and abroad, recommendations for travellers and answers to frequently asked questions.

Coronavirus infolines

For the public: +41 58 463 00 00
For travellers:
+41 58 464 44 88
Daily from 8 am to 6 pm

Current situation – International

More than 78,500 cases of the new coronavirus have been reported throughout the world. 2,461 people have died, of those 19 outside of mainland China.

These figures do not show the whole picture. The number of unreported cases could be very high. There are probably more cases than have been reported, and more deaths.

Infections with the new coronavirus have been confirmed in China and nearly 30 other countries or regions. In Europe cases have been reported in France, Germany, Italy, the UK, Finland, Sweden, Spain, Russia and Belgium.

On 30 January 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a public health emergency of international concern. This step is designed to

  • Strengthen international cooperation,
  • Make sure information is exchanged openly and transparently,
  • Generate additional resources to prepare for and combat the problem,
  • Curb the spread of the virus,
  • Reduce the effects of this epidemic.

On 11 February, the WHO gave the disease caused by the new coronavirus an official name: COVID-19, short for coronavirus disease 2019.


Current situation – Switzerland

So far none of the samples in Switzerland has tested positive for the new coronavirus.

It is, however, possible that cases may also occur in Switzerland. We and our partners are preparing for the eventuality that the new coronavirus will spread in Switzerland.

On the basis of the current assessment of the situation it is not necessary to restrict entry to Switzerland.

Nose or throat swabs are being tested in diagnostic labs in all suspected cases. If the lab confirms an infection with the new coronavirus, people who have been in contact with the person contracting the disease are informed about their risk by the health authorities.

Recommendations for travellers

So far the WHO has not issued any travel restrictions.

Airports in Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Taiwan and other Asian countries or regions have introduced systematic screening measures to monitor passengers from China. Travellers can also expect to face increased monitoring at other international airports (in Europe, North America and Australia).

Before your trip, contact the embassy or consulate of the country you are travelling to in order to find out about any special measures that are in place (FDFA website > Foreign representations in Switzerland).

We advise against travel to the Chinese province of Hubei.

In Hubei province, Wuhan and other cities have been extensively sealed off. Road, rail and air travel have been stopped. People must wear masks in public spaces. Travel to and from these regions is only allowed with a special permit, if at all. It is unclear how long these restrictions and arrangements will apply.

If you are travelling to other parts of China

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or use hand sanitiser.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue, or if you have a tissue use the crook of your arm.
  • Avoid contact with people who are coughing or have difficulties breathing.
  • Avoid large gatherings of people, such as sporting events and public transport.
  • Follow local instructions and recommendations.
  • In case of symptoms (difficulties breathing, a cough or fever), do not go out in public anymore and contact immediately - first by phone - a doctor or a a hospital.

If you have recently spent time in China

For 14 days after your departure from China:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or use hand sanitiser.
  • Avoid large gatherings of people, such as sporting events and public transport.
  • If you have difficulties breathing, a cough or fever, stay at home or in your hotel. Do not go out in public. Immediately contact – first by phone – a doctor or health centre. Mention that you have recently been in China and have symptoms. You will find more information in the FAQ (frequently asked questions).

If you do not have any symptoms it does not make sense to have a test, as there is no test that can rule out an infection with certainty if you have no symptoms.

Information for health professionals

Call the appointed cantonal medical officer within two hours if a case meets the case definition criteria and the reporting criteria

Origins of the new coronavirus

The coronavirus epidemic in China probably originated at a market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan where bats, snakes and other wild animals were traded in addition to fish. The virus was transmitted from animals to humans. Since then the virus has been transmitted from person to person. The Chinese authorities have closed the market.

Frequently asked questions

Press conference from 21 february 2020, 2 pm

Last modification 23.02.2020

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Federal Office of Public Health FOPH
Division Communicable diseases
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