Coronavirus: People at especially high risk

The coronavirus can be dangerous for older people, pregnant women, adults with Trisomy 21 or certain forms of chronic conditions as they may become seriously ill. What should they pay attention to? 

Who is considered to be at especially high risk

The 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 Trisomy 21

Adults with certain forms of the following chronic conditions:

  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Pulmonary and respiratory diseases
  • Conditions and therapies that weaken the immune system
  • Cancer
  • Obesity (BMI ≥ 35 kg/m2)
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Liver cirrhosis

You can find the detailed list of conditions here: List of people at especially high risk (PDF, 174 kB, 10.05.2021). Please note that this list is updated to reflect the latest medical findings. 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, 21.09.2021) 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.

Pregnant women

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

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.

Protection in the workplace

Under Ordinance 3 on Measures to Combat the Coronavirus, people at especially high risk (defined in the list of diseases) benefit from greater protection in the workplace. Further information can be found on the SECO website (in German, French or Italian).

If you have been fully vaccinated, your employer is no longer obliged to take steps to provide additional protection in the workplace. This applies initially for 12 months after a COVID-19 vaccination. If you can provide proof of a confirmed coronavirus infection, it initially applies for 6 months after your isolation has been lifted. This period is based on the scientific data currently available and will be adjusted regularly.

As an employee, the general precautionary measures in the workplace still apply. You will find information on the protection of employees under Precautionary measures.

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, fever, sudden loss of sense of taste and/or smell or muscle ache, call your doctor or a hospital immediately, even at the weekend. Describe your symptoms and state that you are in a high-risk group.

Recommendations for family caregivers

Are you caring for a vulnerable person or living with them in the same household?

How to protect yourself and the person you’re caring for:

  • Keep to the rules on hygiene and social distancing.
  • Get together with as few people as possible.
  • Maintain a distance of at least 1.5 metres from other people, even when you’re meeting friends or family.
  • Wear a mask if this distance cannot be maintained.
  • If possible avoid busy periods in places where there are a lot of people (for example rush hours on public transport or at the railway station, or shopping on Saturdays).
  • Let those around you know what support you need. Accept this support or contact organisations such as Spitex home nursing.
  • Talk about what you’re going through, your thoughts and feelings with other people, for example your family, friends and acquaintances, or professionals.
  • Prepare for the eventuality that you yourself become ill: Name (preferably together with the person you’re caring for) someone to take your place as caregiver. If possible make sure you and the person you’re caring for write down all the important information so that everything’s close at hand if you become ill.

Read the fact sheet on Recommendations for family caregivers (PDF, 227 kB, 02.03.2021) for information about what to do on a day-to-day basis or when symptoms of the disease appear.

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.

COVID-19 vaccination

Vaccinations in Switzerland started in January 2021. Under the COVID-19 vaccination strategy, those at especially high risk are in group 1 and are to be given priority access to the vaccination.

You can find detailed information on COVID-19 vaccination under the section on Vaccination.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Answers to frequently asked questions concerning pregnancy can be found here.

Further information

Disease, symptoms, treatment

Information on Covid-19, the symptoms and the range of illness severity as well as the origin of the new coronavirus

Last modification 20.10.2021

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Federal Office of Public Health FOPH
Infoline Coronavirus
Tel. +41 58 463 00 00

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