Coronavirus: People at especially high risk

The new coronavirus can be dangerous for older people, pregnant women and adults with certain pre-existing conditions as they may become seriously ill. What should they pay attention to?

Who is considered to be at especially high risk

The new coronavirus is particularly dangerous for the following groups of people, as they risk contracting a severe case of the disease:

Older people (The risk that people will contract a severe case of coronavirus disease increases as they get older. The risk of being hospitalised also increases from the age of 50. Pre-existing (underlying) conditions increase the risk even further.)

Pregnant women

Adults with the following underlying medical conditions:

  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic respiratory diseases
  • Cancer
  • Conditions and therapies that weaken the immune system
  • Obesity class III (morbid, BMI greater than or equal to 40 kg/m2)

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

Further information

The fact sheet entitled New coronavirus: Recommendations for people with underlying medical conditions (PDF, 437 kB, 30.10.2020) offers further information for people at especially high risk. It also provides details of support services available to help those affected manage their illness in the current situation.

For information on the topic of pregnancy and coronavirus, visit our page Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

Children and young people

The risk of children developing severe cases of COVID-19 is low. According to current science, children are not considered to be an at risk group requiring additional protective measures. However, evaluations are made on a case-by-case basis by the attending doctor.

How to protect yourself

The best way to protect yourself from infection is to carry on observing the rules on hygiene and social distancing. The recommendations are as follows:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly with soap and water.
  • Keep your distance from other people (at least 1.5 metres).
  • Observe the requirement to wear a mask on public transport.
  • Follow the rules on hygiene and social distancing, even when meeting friends or family, e.g. not using the same cutlery to serve food and not drinking from the same glass, etc.
  • 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 do find yourself in places frequented by large numbers of people and are unable to keep the necessary distance, we recommend you wear a face mask.

You will find information on the protection of employees under Measures and ordinances.

What to do if you experience symptoms

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

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.

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

Further information

Disease, symptoms, treatment

Symptoms of disease, range of illness severity, treatment, COVID-19, new coronavirus

Last modification 05.11.2020

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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.

+41 58 463 00 00

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