New coronavirus: Isolation and quarantine

The spread of the new coronavirus should be kept in check. To achieve that we have to identify and break the chains of transmission. Two important measures in that process are isolation and quarantine.

Explanation of terms

Contact Tracing

In order to contain the epidemic, chains of transmission have to be broken. To do that every newly infected person must be identified and people that they have been in close contact with must be traced. Even people with mild symptoms are to be tested and isolated if they test positive. Contact tracing is carried out by the relevant cantonal service with the help of the infected person, and involves identifying everyone who needs to go into quarantine.

Isolation

Anyone infected with coronavirus, has to isolate themselves. That means avoiding all contact with other people. If the test comes back positive, the competent cantonal body will start the contact tracing process. Read the section entitled ‘Are you experiencing symptoms of illness?

Quarantine

A person who has been in close contact with someone infected with coronavirus must place themselves in quarantine after having been contacted by the relevant cantonal service. That means that they should not have contact with other people. This is to avoid unwittingly infecting other people and thereby break the chain of transmission. Read the section entitled ‘Have you been in contact with someone who has tested positive?

Close contacts

Close contact means that you were less than 1.5 metres away from someone infected with coronavirus without any form of protection (e.g. face mask or partition). The longer you are in contact with someone who is infected, the greater the risk of infection.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Testing

Are you experiencing symptoms of illness that point to the new coronavirus?

The following symptoms often occur as a result of an infection with the new coronavirus (in alphabetic order):

  • Cough (usually dry)
  • High temperature, feverishness
  • Muscle ache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat
  • Sudden loss of sense of smell and/or taste

More rarely:

  • Conjunctivitis
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Headache
  • Head cold

Symptoms of illness can vary in severity and can even be mild.

If you have one or more of the more common symptoms, it is quite possible that you have contracted the new coronavirus. This means you should:

  1. Stay at home. Isolate yourself following the instructions in the PDF on Isolation (below under Documents).
  2. Take the coronavirus check and answer the all the questions as best you can. At the end, you will be given a recommendation as to what to do next. If you are advised to get yourself tested, you will be given instructions on how to proceed. You can also call your doctor to discuss the next steps.
  3. Get yourself tested if the coronavirus check recommends you do so.
  4. Stay at home until you get the test results back.

If the test is positive:

  • Stay in isolation.
  • The cantonal medical service will contact you and give you further information and instructions. They will help you to trace who you have been in contact with. These individuals will then also have to go into quarantine.
  • As a rule, you can only leave your home if you have been free of symptoms for at least 48 hours. At least ten days must have passed since symptoms first appeared.

If you experienced a sudden loss of sense of smell or taste, and if this persists, you can still come out of isolation if this is the only remaining symptom. It can take a while for these senses to recover.

If the test is negative:

Stay at home. You can come out of isolation 24 hours after symptoms subside.

If the coronavirus check did not recommend a test:

Stay at home. You can come out of isolation 24 hours after symptoms disappear. This is also what we recommend for other respiratory diseases or flu.

Here is a selection of measures that you must comply with if have to isolate:

  • Stay at home on your own, or if you live with other people stay in one room and keep the door closed. Air your home or your room regularly.
  • Get family or friends to shop for groceries and other essential items for you and have them leave them outside your door.
  • Avoid direct contact with other people.
  • Strictly follow the hygiene rules.
  • Monitor your health. It may be that you still feel unwell after five to seven days, or even feel worse. Call a doctor if you are worried about your condition or if you show one of the following warning signs:
    • A persistent high temperature lasting several days
    • A persistent feeling of weakness lasting several days
    • Shortness of breath
    • A persistent feeling of pressure or pain in the chest
    • A feeling of confusion, where you have not experienced this before
    • Bluish coloured lips or face

Have you been in contact with someone who has tested positive?

If you can answer yes to this question, you could become infectious within the next few days without even realising it. Strictly follow the rules on hygiene and social distancing. You should also:

  • Monitor your health.
  • You can still go to work, but you should work from home if possible.
  • Avoid unnecessary contact with other people.
  • Always follow the rules on hygiene and social distancing.

Only people with whom the infected person has been in close contact (people living in the same household, for example) need to quarantine themselves. If you do you have to quarantine yourself, the relevant cantonal medical service will contact you to let you know what you have to do.

If you experience symptoms of illness:

Follow the advice in the section entitled ‘Are you experiencing symptoms of illness that point to the new coronavirus?’.

If no symptoms appear:

We don’t recommend that you get yourself tested for the new coronavirus. There is no test that can determine an infection if no symptoms are showing.

Aims of isolation and quarantine

  • We want to identify and break the chains of transmission.
  • We want to keep the spread of the new coronavirus in Switzerland under control.
  • We want to ensure that everyone who needs medical assistance can continue to receive it.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Testing

Feeling ill, but not coronavirus?

What should you do if you are feeling unwell or experiencing health complaints not associated with the new coronavirus? Take it seriously and seek treatment. Don’t wait too long before seeking help and call a doctor.

Lonely, worried or anxious?

For many people, spending time in isolation or in quarantine is not easy. You can feel lonely, anxious or even afraid. Family and friends can be a great help. Stay in touch with them – either on the phone or online. Tell them what’s worrying you. If you don’t feel able to do that then call the Dargebotene Hand free of charge on 143 where you will reach someone to talk to. Or go to www.dureschnufe.ch (in German) where you will find tips and other sources of help for the time in isolation or in 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 30.06.2020

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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.

Print contact

Are you experiencing symptoms? Take the coronavirus check! Click here.
https://www.bag.admin.ch/content/bag/en/home/krankheiten/ausbrueche-epidemien-pandemien/aktuelle-ausbrueche-epidemien/novel-cov/isolation-und-quarantaene.html