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 have been in close proximity (distance of less than 2 metres) to someone infected with coronavirus for more than 15 minutes without any form of protection.

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

The Federal Council is calling on us to carry on protecting ourselves and others. Find out here how best to do that. Continue to follow the rules on hygiene and social distancing. And be aware of what to do if you experience symptoms.

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?

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.

Measures, ordinance and explanations

The Federal Council’s aim in issuing these measures is to curb the spread of the new coronavirus. It is now planning to gradually ease these measures.

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 18.05.2020

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Contact

Due to the extraordinary situation we are unable to respond in writing to enquiries.

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.
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