COVID-19: Monitoring

Here you will find reports on the monitoring of COVID-19 and related topics.

Key figures on COVID-19 in Switzerland and Liechtenstein

On you’ll find key figures on the present spread of SARS-CoV-2, on current COVID-19 case numbers in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, and the associated burden of disease.

Previous daily and weekly reports

Analysing and monitoring wastewater

Wastewater monitoring: keeping track of the epidemiological situation for respiratory pathogens

People who become infected with respiratory viruses such as SARS-CoV-2, Influenza A, Influenza B or RSV excrete fragments of the virus’s genetic material (such as RNA) in their stool. Such fragments thus get into the wastewater system and can be detected there. Since February 2021 the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) has been collecting daily samples of wastewater from six Swiss water treatment plants and analysing these for the presence of SARS-CoV-2. These analyses can help determine whether and (if so) to what extent people are infected with SARS-CoV-2 within the catchment area of the treatment plant concerned.

Eawag has also been conducting research projects on detecting SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater since summer 2020. As part of this project programme, the associated water analyses have been gradually expanded to include further pathogens. The projects’ findings have also been used to establish a nationwide SARS-CoV-2 monitoring system.

Monitoring wastewater is an efficient way to keep track of the present viral load and of the virus variants currently circulating in the population. It provides reliable data rapidly, anonymously and over an extensive area, which is particularly useful when fewer and fewer COVID-19 tests are being conducted.

With the transition to the post-pandemic SARS-CoV-2 situation, the extent of Switzerland’s nationwide wastewater monitoring has been gradually scaled back. In 2022, samples were taken three to six times a week from some 100 water treatment plants (covering around 70% of the population) and analysed by designated cantonal and private laboratories. In January 2023, in view of the COVID-19 epidemiological situation, the range of water treatment plants sampled was reduced to around 50 (covering 44% of the population). And in July 2023, all the analyses under this national wastewater monitoring were taken over by Eawag, and the number of treatment plants sampled was further reduced to 14 (covering 27% of the population). To provide integrated monitoring of respiratory viruses, this national wastewater monitoring programme was also expanded to include influenza and RSV.

The institutionalisation of wastewater monitoring in Switzerland has established a sustainable and scalable system for monitoring respiratory pathogens. The selection of the water treatment plants sampled pays due regard to both their geographical distribution and the structure of their catchment areas, i.e. whether these are largely urban or rural by nature. The costs of these analyses are met by the federal government.

The data collected to track the epidemiological situation are evaluated on an ongoing basis. The data on SARS-CoV-2 can be found on the COVID-19 dashboard. And further information on the methodology and results will be found on the Eawag website and on the ETH’s wastewater monitoring webpage.

Wastewater-based SARS-CoV-2 monitoring in various countries

In the document below you will find an overview of how a selection of countries are monitoring the spread and distribution of SARS-CoV-2 by sampling and analysing their wastewater.

Monitoring of COVID-19 and flu in Swiss hospitals

During the pandemic, the hospital-based sentinel system proved to be an important tool for monitoring severe disease progression in COVID-19 and flu. The surveillance system was launched in 2018 as part of flu surveillance and expanded to include COVID-19 in 2020.

The aim of such monitoring is to obtain detailed clinical and epidemiological information on the burden of disease, its clinical course (such as ICU treatment) and risk factors. CH-SUR is being jointly coordinated by the FOPH, the Institute of Global Health of the University of Geneva and the Infection Control Program of the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG). The project is financed by the FOPH.

The key results and findings from the hospital-based sentinel system are published weekly in a joint report in English, French, German and Italian. Reporting is seasonal and commences in mid-October. You can find the latest report, along with previously published reports here. Background information on the survey system can be found on the website of the University of Geneva (flu and COVID-19).


Further information

Research projects and literary research on Covid-19

You can find information on Covid-19 research projects on this page.

Last modification 28.09.2023

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