New coronavirus: What to do in the event of symptoms and possible infection

People who have typical symptoms of Covid-19 disease must go into isolation. People who have had close contact with a person with Covid-19 disease must go into quarantine. This way chains of infection can be broken. 

Isolation and quarantine

Isolation and quarantine are measures designed to break chains of infection and thus contain the spread of the new coronavirus. These measures apply to people who have been confirmed with an infection or are suspected to be infected. Suspicion may arise, for example, because they have typical symptoms of the disease or have had close contact with someone who demonstrably has Covid-19.

You will find definitions of the terms “close contacts”, “isolation” and “quarantine” on the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.

What to do in the event of symptoms of the disease

It is important for as many cases of infection with the new coronavirus to be identified as possible. For this reason we recommend a test even if you have only mild symptoms. If you feel ill or have individual symptoms pointing to the new coronavirus, follow the steps set out below. These steps also apply to children older than 12. Detailed information on what to do in the case of children under 12 years of age can be found in the section Children with symptoms and possible infection.

1. Reduce contact: Stay at home and avoid all contact with other people.

2. Get a test recommendation: Do the coronavirus check. At the end of the check you’ll receive our recommendation. If you are to have a test you will receive information on the next steps. You can also call your doctor to discuss the procedure.

3. Tests: Have a test if this is recommended by the coronavirus check or your doctors. Provided the FOPH’s criteria for testing are met, the costs of the test will be paid by the federal government.

4. Until the test results are available: Stay at home and avoid all contact with other people until the result of the test is available.

What to do in the event of a positive test result

  • Contact tracing: The cantonal office responsible will contact you. Together you will work out what people have been in contact with you. These people may have to go into quarantine. Note that in the current situation the cantonal office might not be able to contact you promptly. In this case, you yourself should inform your close contacts that you have been infected. Your close contacts will find out how to proceed under What to do following contact with an infected person.
  • Covidcode: If you use the SwissCovid App, on request you will receive a Covidcode from the cantonal office. You can use the Covidcode to voluntarily activate the alert function in the app to anonymously notify other users of the contact.
  • Aggravation of symptoms: Contact your doctor if your symptoms of illness worsen or are concerning you.
  • End of isolation: Follow the cantonal office’s instructions concerning the end of your isolation. Basically, isolation lasts for 10 days from the start of symptoms. If you have not received any instructions from the cantonal office, you may only leave your home after 10 days at the earliest. Note that whatever the case, you must have been free of symptoms for 48 hours before you end your isolation.

What to do in the event of a negative test result

Stay at home. You can come out of isolation 24 hours after the symptoms have subsided. This is also our recommendation for other respiratory diseases and the flu.

If you experience symptoms again or are worried, contact your doctor.

What to do following contact with an infected person

Have you had contact with a person who has tested positive for the new coronavirus? You may be contagious (able to infect other people) for the next few days without realising.

It is most frequent for the first symptoms to occur within 10 days of contact with an infected person. During this time the following applies:

  • Strictly follow the rules on hygiene and social distancing.
  • Keep an eye on your state of health.
  • Protect your family, friends and other people by avoiding unnecessary contacts.
  • If your personal and work circumstances permit you can go into quarantine yourself and work from home.
  • If you cannot work from home, it’s particularly important for you to observe the rules of hygiene and behaviour by avoiding contact, keeping your distance and wearing a mask if you cannot stay at least 1.5 metres away from other people.

If you start experiencing disease symptoms: Stay at home and follow the instructions on what to do in the event of symptoms of the disease.

Instructions from the cantonal office

As the circumstances require, the cantonal office responsible will contact you to inform you about what to do next.  From this point the quarantine instructions (PDF, 182 kB, 12.09.2020) are binding.

If you still do not have symptoms 10 days after the contact, you may come out of quarantine.

Alert from the SwissCovid App

Have you received an alert (warning) from the SwissCovid App that you have been in contact with an infected person? Please call the specified infoline voluntarily. The infoline will discuss with you the likelihood you have been infected and what to do next.  

Children with symptoms and possible infection

According to current knowledge, children can also be infected with the new coronavirus. However, children under 12 years of age are less likely to be symptomatic than young people and adults and are also less likely to transmit the virus to other people. The steps outlined below therefore apply to children under 12 years of age.

The same principles apply to children over 12 years of age as those applicable to young people and adults. If your child aged over 12 feels ill, has individual symptoms or has had contact with an infected person, follow the instructions provided in the sections What to do in the event of symptoms of the disease or What to do following contact with an infected person.

Symptoms and close contact with a symptomatic person

If your child has symptoms of a possible infection with the new coronavirus and has had close contact with a symptomatic person (child aged over 12 or an adult), what you should do depends on the test result of the close contact person:

  • If the contact person’s test result is positive: Your child must stay at home and will be tested in consultation with the paediatrician who will provide you with information on how to proceed.
  • If the contact person’s test result is negative: Your child may only return to his or her school or childcare facility following a period of 24 hours during which he or she no longer exhibits fever or if his or her cough has significantly improved.  

Symptoms without close contact with a symptomatic person

If your child has symptoms of a possible infection with the new coronavirus and has not had close contact with a symptomatic person (child aged over 12 or an adult), what you should do depends on your child’s symptoms and health:

  • Your child has mild cold symptoms (sniffles and/or a sore throat and/or a slight cough) and is in good general health: Your child may continue to attend his or her school or childcare facility.
  • Your child has a fever and is in good general health: Your child must stay at home and may only return to his or her school or childcare facility following a period of 24 hours during which he or she no longer exhibits fever. Contact your paediatrician if your child's fever persists for three days or more.
    If your child has other symptoms (gastrointestinal complaints, headache, aching limbs, loss of sense of taste or smell), discuss what to do with the paediatrician.
  • Your child has a severe cough and is in good general health: Your child must stay at home and may only return to his or her school or childcare facility if the cough has improved significantly within three days. Contact your paediatrician if your child's severe cough persists for more than three days.
    If your child has other symptoms (gastrointestinal complaints, headache, aching limbs, loss of sense of taste or smell), discuss what to do with the paediatrician.
  • Your child has a fever or severe cough and/or is in poor general health: Contact the paediatrician directly to discuss what to do. 

You will find information graphics for the above cases under the tab Links.

When three or more children exhibit symptoms in a school class/childcare group and the cantonal offices have been informed accordingly, they will determine the next steps for the children in consultation with the attending paediatricians.  

What to do after a test

If your child is tested, the instructions provided in the section What to do in the event of a positive test result apply to your child should the test prove positive. In the event of a negative test result, your child under 12 years of age may return to school immediately. If your child had a fever, however, he or she must be fever-free for a period of 24 hours before being allowed to go back to school. If your child had a sever cough, there must be a significant improvement in the cough before being allowed to return.

Transmission among children

The special guidelines for children under 12 years of age have been defined, as it should in principle be possible for children to attend school and childcare facilities. Children are rarely infected with the new coronavirus at school or childcare facilities. They are primarily infected within their family, although less often than adults.  

Continued payment of salary

If you have to go into isolation because you have the new coronavirus disease and have been signed off work by a doctor, you are entitled to continued payment of your salary or to daily sickness benefits. The continued payment of salary is governed by the Swiss Code of Obligations. This obliges your employer to keep paying you for at least three weeks. Many employers take out insurance so that employees who are absent for longer periods receive daily sickness benefits covering 80 percent of their pay. Check with your employer and your employment contract to find out what arrangements apply to you.

If you have to go into compulsory quarantine because you have been in contact with a person who has tested positive, you are entitled to compensation for loss of earnings. You will find information on this (in German, French and Italian) on the website of the Federal Social Insurance Office (FSIO).

Loneliness and anxiety

For many people it’s not easy to spend time alone in isolation or quarantine. You may feel lonely, worried or anxious. Family and friends are a precious resource. Stay in contact with them, for example by phone or online. Tell them what’s on your mind. If that’s not possible, phone 143 for the Dargebotene Hand/La main tendue/Telefono Amico Ticino e Grigioni Italiano for someone to talk to, free of charge, around the clock. Or visit www.dureschnufe.ch. There you’ll find tips, ideas and services, also for the time you’re in isolation or quarantine.

Further information

Protect yourself and others

Rules on hygiene and social distancing: keep your distance, wash your hands, cough/sneeze into a paper tissue/the crook of your arm, stay at home if you experience symptoms, recommendations on wearing masks and working from home

People at especially high risk

Dangerous underlying medical conditions and how to handle them, visits to care homes

Measures and ordinances

Measures, easing of measures, conditions for reopening, permitted events or activities, still prohibited, criminal provisions, explanations

Easy-to-read language

Rules and prohibitions of the Federal Council, information about the corona virus, when you have to stay at home

Sign language

The rules and prohibitions of the Federal Council, information about the corona virus, when you have to stay at home

Last modification 23.10.2020

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Contact

We are unable to respond to enquiries related to COVID-19 in writing.

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

Under Contacts and links you will find contact information for the FOPH, other federal agencies and the cantons.

Tel.
+41 58 463 00 00

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