Swiss authorities announced on Friday, October 23, that additional coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions will be implemented in the next week amid a record rise in infections. On Friday, the Federal Office of Public Health reported the highest 24-hour rise in positive cases at 6,634, bringing the total number since the beginning of the pandemic to 103,653 with 1,877 associated deaths. Further details on restrictive measures are expected to be released in the coming days, however, it is believed that most businesses will be permitted to remain open.
Previously, on Monday, October 19, authorities mandated the wearing of face masks in all enclosed public places nationwide, including shops, schools, churches, cinemas, airports, and train stations. Gatherings of more than 15 people in public places are also prohibited. Bars and restaurants are restricted to table service only.
The announcement of tighter measures reportedly drew criticism in some areas, with several hundred people staging a demonstration outside the government's Federal Palace in Bern on Sunday, October 18. Further unrest over the issue is possible.
Further international spread of the virus is expected over the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
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