Coronavirus: Protect yourself and others

Now that the coronavirus measures and restrictions have been lifted, individual responsibility is becoming more important. How we protect ourselves and others now depends on our own behaviour. The basic principles described on this page will protect you not only from the coronavirus but also from other respiratory pathogens.

If you feel that you are getting a cold, try to avoid contact with others – particularly people at especially high risk – and stay at home as much as you can. If this is not possible, wear a facemask when you are with other people, and keep your distance from them. The coronavirus and other pathogens such as the flu virus or the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are all transmitted in similar ways, and can also prompt similar symptoms.

This also means that if you are at especially high risk, you should contact your doctor or another medical specialist if you develop any cold symptoms, so that if you have contracted COVID-19, appropriate treatment can be swiftly considered. If you go to work, please also discuss your work activities with your employer, along with any protection measures and/or medical certificate that may be required.

You’ll find more details on the symptoms of COVID-19 on the Disease, symptoms, treatment page. And further information on testing will be found on the Tests page.

Basic principles

Do you want to protect yourself and others from the coronavirus, from the flu or from other respiratory illnesses? By observing the following basic principles – individually or in combination – you can reduce the risk of an infection with these viruses and also protect others. Which of these principles make the most sense will depend greatly on where you may be (e.g. on public transport or at work). The risk of getting infected with the coronavirus and other respiratory pathogens is greatest in crowded indoor locations. So in such surroundings, a combination of wearing a facemask and regular ventilation (if possible) may be the best approach.


Get vaccinated

Vaccination can help protect you from a severe case of COVID-19. You can find more information on the Vaccination page.

Keep your distance.

Wear a facemask

You can continue to wear a facemask if you wish. As the coronavirus is transmitted via droplets and aerosols, facemasks protect you and others from infection. If you develop symptoms of possible infection, a facemask will be particularly useful in helping to ensure that you do not pass any viruses on.

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Keep your distance

The risk of infection is increased when you are in close contact with other people. This is because when they sneeze or cough, and even when they just speak or breathe more heavily, people release more droplets and aerosols into their immediate vicinity. So by keeping your distance from others, you can reduce your risk of infection.


Ventilate several times a day

Ventilating reduces the concentration of coronaviruses, other respiratory viruses and other contaminants in indoor spaces and thus the risk of transmission. So any indoor areas where people from different groups or households congregate should be ventilated particularly well and regularly. Temperature permitting, it is also a good idea to leave windows open for extended periods.

Cough and sneeze into a tissue or the crook of your arm

Cough and sneeze into a tissue or the crook of your arm

Viruses can be spread by blowing your nose, sneezing, spitting or coughing. So to eliminate or reduce the risk of such transmission, you should:

  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue or, if you don’t have a tissue, into the crook of your arm.
  • Use a paper tissue, and use it only once, then dispose of it. Then wash your hands.
  • Wash your hands if necessary.

 Wash your hands thoroughly.

Wash or sanitise your hands thoroughly

Wash your hands regularly or disinfect them with an alcohol-based hand sanitiser. This will also help you protect yourself and others from infection by a range of further pathogens (such as the flu virus or cold viruses) which can trigger a cold or a cough.

Wash your hands whenever you

  • come home
  • have touched objects or surfaces that have also been touched frequently by other people
  • have blown your nose, coughed or sneezed
  • are about to prepare food or eat.

Please note: The temperature of the water you use has no influence on the reduction of the number of viruses on the skin. The water can therefore be cold or lukewarm. What is more important is how and for how long you wash your hands. This means you should soap all areas of your hands (including thumbs, spaces between fingers, backs of hands and fingernails) thoroughly for at least 30 seconds.

Contact points for those with long COVID, suffering loneliness or with other concerns

If you are suffering from the long-term effects of a COVID-19 infection, you’ll find more information here:

  • Long COVID Switzerland (in German only)
  • Altea Network (in German, French and Italian only)
  • Verband Covid Langzeitfolgen (long COVID association; in German only)
  • RAFAEL, la plateforme d’information Post-COVID (post-COVID information, in French only).

If you need someone to talk to, you can find competent listeners for a supportive conversation from the following.

Free of charge and always available:

  • Die Dargebotene Hand, telephone counselling (in German, French or Italian only) at 143; also via e-mail or chat
  • Pro Juventute advice for parents: phone 058 261 61 61 (also via e-mail or chat)
  • Pro Juventute child helpline at 147
  • Elternnotruf: phone 0848 35 45 55 (counselling in German, French, Italian or English).

At the normal rates and at selected times:

Or visit, where you’ll find tips and help (in German) on issues such as family and loneliness, problems at home, financial concerns and similar. Under 10 steps for mental health, you are also provided with tips on what you can do yourself to boost your well-being.

Worry, loneliness and stress can also lead to increased consumption of alcohol, prescription drugs or other substances. At you can get online advice (in German, in French or Italian) on addiction and substance abuse issues, anonymously if you wish.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Answers to frequently asked questions concerning infection and risks can be found here.



Downloads in various languages

Information campaign ‘Protect yourself and others’: posters, videos and instructions in different languages, incl. those of Switzerland’s migrant population

Further information

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Last modification 05.07.2023

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

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