COVID-19 in Switzerland by Lucia Butler-Cerisola

On the 25th of February, Switzerland announced its first laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19. One month later, on the 23rd of March, 1,667 new cases were confirmed in a single day. The next day, the number of confirmed cases dropped: as of March 31st, the number of confirmed cases has experienced a decline.

Since April 27th, 172 individuals have been diagnosed with coronavirus in Switzerland. The businesses of hairdressers, physiotherapists, florists, and beauticians have been allowed to re-open. On May 11th, the country had only forty-six new confirmed cases, and thus, school officials decided to resume in-person classes in kindergartens, primary, and lower secondary schools, with new protective techniques. For example, classrooms of upper secondary schools are only permitted to contain five students at a time. 

Shops, markets, museums, and libraries have also opened as of May 11th, in addition to restaurants and bars, though tables in these facilities may not be seated by more than four patrons at a time, unless those visiting are one family. Recreational sports have resumed and public transportation systems and travel agencies have reopened in parallel to relaxed domestic travel restrictions. However, international travel is largely closed unless individuals have an urgent reason for travel. As of June 8th, zoos, botanical gardens, swimming pools, theatres, cinemas, and religious services will reopen. Gatherings of over five people will be permitted. 

As of June 1st, there have been 30,871 deaths and 1,657 cases due to COVID-19 in Switzerland. The highest concentration of cases in the country is in Vaud, a western canton that has experienced around 5,500 cases. Nevertheless, thanks to the caution of the Swiss public and the dedication of the country’s healthcare professionals, over 28,500 citizens have recovered from the virus. Switzerland’s Federal Council, the seven-member leadership organization of the Swiss Confederation, has reported its belief that Switzerland has faced the COVID-19 pandemic with successful resilience. The Council has also announced its plan to add 14 billion francs to the country’s unemployment insurance system in order to stimulate economic recovery. People that had to remain unemployed because their businesses were forced to close, were paid 80% of their usual salary by the government. 

As more public places open and restrictions are lifted, I find myself wondering whether these relaxed regulations will lead to another outbreak in spite of Switzerland’s considerably improved current conditions. Many scientists are in the midst of developing vaccines and other therapeutic resources to combat the coronavirus. For example, one research program is in the process of analyzing the number of virus cases in Switzerland and the nature of infection and immunity to the virus.

In addition, Switzerland’s Federal Council has approved new plans for the fascinating SwissCovid-App. This application has yet to be released but will offer a proximity tracing system through which citizens are notified when they have been within two meters from someone for over fifteen minutes. The app protects users’ anonymity and participation is voluntary. Users who test positive for the novel coronavirus can record this information on the app. Consequently, when users are within two meters from other coronavirus-positive users for a prolonged period of time, they will receive a warning message and can be tested by a doctor immediately if they display virus symptoms. 

I believe that Switzerland is responding well to the coronavirus pandemic. How is your country coping with the virus? Answer in the comments! 

My Personal Experience in Switzerland 

My family and I have had a very enjoyable experience during this time and consider ourselves lucky. My whole family, which is scattered across the world, has not contracted coronavirus, or at least not shown any symptoms. When I came home after Santa Catalina closed, I was scared to be coming from Monterey, which at the time had no cases, to the canton of Baselland, which has experienced many virus cases and deaths. However, that fear soon fled, because the number of daily confirmed cases and deaths decreased quickly, and I realized that I was safe no matter what was going around me in the comfort of my home. Over the course of this pandemic, my family has not been quarantined within our home, and we have gone outside to go on walks, bike rides, and jogs, though my mom and stepfather have been the only ones to go to the store and collect groceries. The grocery stores have at times experienced a shortage of supplies such as toilet paper, but not much more. In my family, my mother has been affected by the coronavirus and its social and political implications. She keeps close communication with the rest of our family, and they constantly send each other articles, videos, and political reports surrounding the pandemic. 

Throughout this time, my sister and I have participated in online schooling, though our class meetings typically take place in the evenings, starting at 5:30 PM, as our time zone is nine hours ahead of that of Monterey. My sister and I have truly missed our friends and in-person classes this time. However, in comparing my situation to that of others, I know that these are only minor issues. I have found it a pleasure to be back at home with my whole family in Switzerland and to still be able to do school. I do not necessarily long for or miss going to restaurants or shopping centres, or travelling to beautiful cities and towns on trains. All in all, my experience with COVID-19 has been fascinating and lovely considering that this is an experience that I will never forget and that will be discussed frequently in the future. I am grateful that my experience has not been all too bad, and am sending my best wishes to those with harder situations. 

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