New coronavirus: People at especially high risk

The new coronavirus poses a particular risk to people over the age of 65 years and for adults with an underlying medical condition. They may become seriously ill. What should they, as well as younger and healthy people, pay attention to?

People over the age of 65 or with an underlying medical condition

Many people who fall ill with the new coronavirus get well again. But the virus is particularly dangerous for the following groups of people, as they risk contracting a severe case of the disease:

  • People over the age of 65
  • Adults with the following underlying medical conditions:
    • Cancer
    • Cardiovascular disease
    • Chronic respiratory diseases
    • Conditions and therapies that weaken the immune system
    • Diabetes
    • High blood pressure
  • Or with:
    • obesity class III (morbid, BMI greater than or equal to 40 kg/m2)

The annex 6 to the COVID-19 Ordinance 2 contains a continuously updated list of which categories of people are considered to be at especially high risk according to the latest scientific advice.

If you are unsure whether you are at a higher risk of becoming severely ill, please contact your doctor.

How to protect yourself

If you are over the age of 65 or have one of the following underlying medical conditions, you should stay at home.

  • You can leave your home as long as you strictly follow the hygiene and social distancing rules. Avoid places frequented by large numbers of people (e.g. railway stations, public transport) and peak times (e.g. shopping on Saturdays, commuting)
  • Avoid unnecessary contacts and keep your distance from other people (at least two metres).
  • If possible get a friend or neighbour to go shopping for you or order online or by phone. You can also find out about other ways of getting help through various organisations, your local council or online.
  • Use the phone, Skype or other similar service for business or private meetings.
  • Avoid direct contact with people from outside your household.

If you have to go to the doctor’s, go by car, cycle or walk. If that’s not possible, take a taxi. Keep at least 2 metres away from other people and observe hygiene rules.

If you are employed and at risk due to an underlying medical condition, your employer must take steps to protect you. On 16 April the Federal Council issued additional guidance in this regard. You can find further details under Recommendations for the workplace.

If you experience symptoms such as a cough (usually dry), sore throat, shortness of breath, a high temperature, feverishness, muscle ache or sudden loss of sense of taste or smell, call your doctor or a hospital immediately, even at the weekend. Describe your symptoms and state that you are in a high-risk group.

Visits to care homes and hospitals once again possible

Residents of old people's homes and nursing homes are among those at especially high risk. They should therefore be protected against infection as far as possible. Visits to homes and outings outside the institutions should, however, be possible in principle. We recommend that homes take precautions to strictly adhere to the rules on hygiene and social distancing (for example: only allowing healthy visitors, limiting the number of visitors and visiting hours, and installing transparent barriers).

Visits to hospitals are allowed again in principle as well on condition that:

  • the move has been approved by the cantonal medical service.
  • the institution has decided to allow visits.

Contact the institutions directly to find out about special precautions, social distancing rules and visiting times.

Managing an underlying medical condition

People with an underlying medical condition are at greater risk of experiencing a serious case if they contract the new coronavirus. They may be wondering:

  • What special measures can I take to protect myself?
  • What do I have to do if I experience symptoms?
  • Will my treatment change?
  • Can I still go to work?

The fact sheet on non-communicable diseases and COVID-19 (PDF, 467 kB, 29.05.2020) provides answers to these questions. It also contains numerous sources of support for those affected in managing their illness in the current situation.

What should caregivers be aware of?

Do you look after or live in the same household as someone who is at especially high risk?

How to protect yourself and the person you look after

  • Follow the rules on hygiene and social distancing.
  • If you live in the same household as the person you look after, you can leave the home as long as you strictly follow the rules on hygiene and social distancing. Avoid places frequented by large numbers of people (e.g. railway stations, public transport) and peak times (e.g. shopping on Saturdays, commuting).
  • If you don’t live in the same household as the person you look after: keep contact with other people to a minimum to reduce the likelihood of contracting the coronavirus.
  • Let those around you know if you need assistance and accept help from others.
  • Or get in touch with organisations such as Spitex.
  • Talk to others about what you’re going through, your thoughts and feelings – with your family and friends or a specialist.
  • Prepare for the possibility that you yourself may fall ill: take steps to organise a stand-in – preferably together with the person you look after. Make a note together of the most important care details so that everything is quickly at hand should you fall ill.

To find out what you should be aware of in general and if you experience symptoms, read the fact sheet with recommendations for caregivers (PDF, 209 kB, 18.05.2020).

Further information

Requirements for sets of precautionary measures

The Federal Council is gradually easing measures and restrictions. Establishments, businesses, schools and event organisers must comply with strict requirements to protect public health.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the new coronavirus

Do you have any questions regarding the risk of infection, travel and tourism, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, and protecting yourself from infection? You will find many answers here.

COVID-19, symptoms and treatment, origins of the new coronavirus

What are the symptoms of COVID-19, and how might the illness progress? Can it be treated? What do you have to beware of if you have symptoms? And where did the new coronavirus first appear? Find out here.

Easy-to-read language

All people have many questions about the corona virus.
Certainly you too!
You can get sick. You can protect yourself.
There are rules and prohibitions.
Here will you find information.

Sign language

All people have many questions about the coronavirus.
Certainly you too!
You can get sick. You can protect yourself.
There are rules and prohibitions.
Here will you find information.

Last modification 19.05.2020

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Please refer instead to our webpages, which are continuously updated.

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