Donnerstag, 29.10.2020 05:08 Uhr

Coronavirus: the situation in Switzerland

Verantwortlicher Autor: ZéLuis F. Correia Bern, 30.03.2020, 14:38 Uhr
Presse-Ressort von: ZéLuis F. Correia Bericht 5460x gelesen
The Swiss Parlament Building in Bern.
The Swiss Parlament Building in Bern.  Bild: ZéLuis F. Correia

Bern [ENA] Switzerland is one of the countries most affected by the coronavirus, with nearly 15,000 positive tests and 300 deaths. As of March 30, 14,963 people have tested positive and 300 people have died, according to an aggregate of cantonal statistics. The rate of infection will still continue to grow.

It will take at least a week for the rate of infections to ease, health officials warned on March 21. The government has issued a recommendation to all citizens to stay at home, especially the sick and the elderly. It has announced a countrywide ban on gatherings of more than five people and more measures to help support the economy. Cantons can close manufacturing plants to cease operation if they follow criteria set down by the federal authorities. Army personnel have been called in to help customs officials police borders with other countries.

An “extraordinary situation” has been declared, resulting in a ban on all private and public events and closing bars, restaurants, sports and cultural spaces; only businesses providing essential goods remain open. Schools are closed nationwide. The measures are in force until April 19. Due to the spread of the coronavirus, the government has categorised the situationexternal link in the country as “extraordinary”. This allows the authorities to take over certain powers from the 26 cantons and to impose measures, including bans on events. The application of these legal provisions is a first for Switzerland.

The government has ramped up its response to the widening pandemic, ordering the closure of bars, restaurants, sports facilities and cultural spaces. Only businesses providing essential goods – such as grocery stores, bakeries and pharmacies – are to remain open. Banks and post offices will also be open. The measures are in place until April 19. The Federal Health Office said numbers of positive tests were rising so fast that it is difficult to provide accurate figures. More than 6,000 tests are being carried out in Switzerland per day. Experts have warned that cases will continue to rise.

The government, while calling on people to stay at home unless necessary, has maintained that daily supplies of medicine and food are guaranteed. It has however rationed some common painkiller and anti-fever drugs, to prevent panic buying. The government especially recommends that the sick, and people 65 or older, stay at home. Some cantons went further by forbidding over-65s from leaving their homes altogether, except for visits to the doctors, or a two-hour solo walk. However, the Federal Justice Office said such measures are in violation of the nationwide regulations.

A decision by canton Ticino, a region neighbouring Italy, to close down factories and stop all non-essential economic activities was initially considered illegal in Bern; however, an adaptation of federal rules regarding regions introducing stricter measures 'unilaterally' was later announced. The government advises against all non-urgent travel in Switzerland and abroad. All ski resorts have been closed across Switzerland. Tourist trains have also been cancelled. Swiss International Air Lines has reduced or cancelled many flights to and from areas with a particular risk of infections. The Swiss government has introduced a countrywide ban on gatherings of more than five people in public places. (Source: BAG - OFSP - UFSP)

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