Policy responses for Switzerland - HSRM


Policy responses for Switzerland

1. Preventing transmission

The section on PREVENTING TRANSMISSION includes information on key public health measures that aim to prevent the further spread of the disease. It details how countries are advising the general public and people who (might) have the disease to prevent further spread, as well as measures in place to test and identify cases, trace contacts, and monitor the scale of the outbreak.

1.1 Health communication

On April 30, the FOPH changed the colour of the public awareness campaign from red to pink. The colour indicated that restrictions were being eased, however activities were only permitted on the condition that people adhered to the rules on hygiene and social distancing. 

The FOPH published an explanatory video on how to wear a facemask. Facemasks were recommended if:
• One is unable to keep a distance of 2 metres from others, e.g. when using public transportation.
• It forms part of the set of precautionary measures put in place by a service sector business whose services one wishes to use.

On June 6, the campaign colour changed from pink to blue. In addition to the still valid and proven rules, the campaign is now establishing contact tracing in order to contain the spread of the new coronavirus and prevent a second wave. Keeping a distance remains the most important protective measure, however no fines are issued anymore.

The Swiss population is asked to observe three further rules at this stage:

• Testing: In case of symptoms, get tested immediately and stay at home.
• Tracing: For tracing purposes, provide contact details whenever possible.
• Isolation in case of a positive test and quarantine in case of contact with a person that was tested positive.

At the end of July, the FOPH released a new set of posters to remind the population that behavioural rules still apply, even during the holiday season. In the mountains, at the train station, at the petrol station or in the city: "The virus also works during the holiday season. Keep your distance!"

On September 24, the FOPH launched a new campaign with the theme “go on and do it!”. The “TTIQ” strategy - that is, tracing, testing, isolation and quarantine - is at the heart of the message. The campaign has a new focus on young people and extends to forums such as Tinder and the gaming platform twitch.tv. The FOPH reminds the population of the hygiene and distancing rules and emphasises the importance of self-isolation after a positive test result and of going into quarantine upon return from a high-risk country and while test results are pending. Also, to always leave one’s contact information if required.

Sources and links:

• New coronavirus: Pink indicates easing of measures: https://www.bag.admin.ch/bag/en/home/das-bag/aktuell/news/news-30-04-2020.html
• Coronavirus: Die BAG-Kampagne ist neu blau und fokussiert auf das Contact Tracing: https://www.bag.admin.ch/bag/de/home/das-bag/aktuell/medienmitteilungen.msg-id-79373.html
• “Go on and do it!” - FOPH campaign enters a new phase: https://www.bag.admin.ch/bag/en/home/das-bag/aktuell/medienmitteilungen.msg-id-80493.html

The first Corona case in Switzerland was identified on February 24 2020 in the Southern/Italian-speaking canton of Ticino, and the virus was considered to be of moderate danger to the Swiss population. In the week of February 27, the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) launched an information campaign, containing three key messages on rules of hygiene and conduct: 1. Wash your hands thoroughly; 2. Cough and sneeze into a handkerchief or the crook of your arm; 3. Stay home in case of fever and cough. Flyers were distributed at border crossings to Italy, major train stations and motorway service areas. Posters informed border crossers and travellers about important rules of conduct. Starting February 28, advertisements were launched in various newspapers. Information material was made available online and via postal mail for companies and organisations.

During the week of March 2, ads were launched on TV and online, and digital posters were set up. The website www.bag-coronavirus.ch was launched. The website provides information on key measures to avoid the spread of the disease. It is available in three official Swiss languages and English, and downloadable material is available in an additional 21 languages. Information material is constantly updated, and is marked with a date.

On March 2, after the first registration of local coronavirus transmissions within Switzerland, the FOPH added additional rules of behaviour and hygiene: 1. Put used paper handkerchiefs into closed waste bins, 2. Don’t shake hands, 3. Always call ahead before going to the doctor’s or the emergency department. These additional hygiene and behaviour rules were published in red instead of yellow to highlight the change.

The FOPH provides daily information on the epidemiological situation in Switzerland on its website and its twitter account to the general public. The Federal Council regularly communicates information and decisions on the situation during a live press conference (during peak times: twice per week) and the FOPH holds regular press conferences to inform the general public on the current epidemiological situation and to provide expert information. All events involve experts from different fields of the public administration and journalists can ask questions.

Information measures against domestic violence
Even though cantons have not recorded a significant increase in reports to support services for victims or people being at risk for domestic violence, experts feared that victims were not reporting their cases because of restrictions on movement. A Federal and Cantonal Task Force, which was made up of the responsible federal offices (e.g. the Federal Office for Gender Equality or the Federal Office of Justice), as well as the responsible intercantonal conferences (e.g. Swiss Conference against Domestic Violence), aimed at strengthening information measures against domestic violence and was launching a poster campaign starting the week of April 27. All companies, regardless of their industry, were invited to print the poster and display it in shops.

The task force had been closely monitoring the current situation in the area of domestic violence since the outbreak of the crisis and had been assessing appropriate measures. The national poster campaign complemented the information activities that various cantons have already taken in the wake of the corona crisis.

Sources and links:

• FOPH information campaign: https://www.bag.admin.ch/bag/de/home/das-bag/aktuell/medienmitteilungen.msg-id-78273.html
• March 2: New rules on behaviour and hygiene: https://www.bag.admin.ch/bag/de/home/das-bag/aktuell/medienmitteilungen.msg-id-78304.html
• FOPH coronavirus portal: www.bag-coronavirus.ch
• FOPH youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCh4VTxoTL79TpMBg3yBqSPQ 
• FOPH on twitter: https://twitter.com/BAG_OFSP_UFSP?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Eembeddedtimeline%7Ctwterm%5Eprofile%3ABAG_OFSP_UFSP&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bag.admin.ch%2Fbag%2Fde%2Fhome.html 
• New coronavirus: Current situation – Switzerland and international: https://www.bag.admin.ch/bag/en/home/krankheiten/ausbrueche-epidemien-pandemien/aktuelle-ausbrueche-epidemien/novel-cov/situation-schweiz-und-international.html
• Coronavirus: Federal Council does not want a general obligation to wear a mask:https://www.bag.admin.ch/bag/en/home/das-bag/aktuell/medienmitteilungen.msg-id-78874.html
• Keep up the good work – our motivational video: https://www.bag.admin.ch/bag/en/home/das-bag/aktuell/news/news-21-04-2020.html
• Informationsmassnahmen gegen häusliche Gewalt werden verstärkt:   https://www.ebg.admin.ch/ebg/de/home/das-ebg/nsb-news_list.msg-id-78919.html