13 July 2020 – Policy Brief

SARS-CoV-2 prevention in Switzerland and open borders from 15 June 2020 onwards

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Executive summary

Switzerland’s efforts to control transmission of SARS-CoV-2 resulted in a low level of ongoing domestic transmission until mid-June 2020. The re-opening of international borders means that there will be imported cases of infection. Travelers are a sentinel population for monitoring SARS-CoV-2 transmission in Switzerland because new outbreaks resulting from imported infection may be hard to control by the time they are detected. Control measures at the border will not identify all imported cases, but active measures for detection, contact tracingand follow-up reduce the risk of transmission, and will provide information for travelers on SARS-CoV-2 control measures that should be observed in Switzerland.

The objective of this policy brief is to describe an approach that allows for travel between countries whilst managing the public health risk and controlling the spread of SARS-CoV-2 transmission in Switzerland.

The policy brief includes: 1) operational recommendations to classify countries into four categories of risk, according to the epidemiological situation of COVID-19, which will be updated monthly, 2)recommendations for management of travelers, according to the presence or absence of symptoms, at the border, and 3) recommendations for persons leaving Switzerland and traveling to countries where the risk of SARS-CoV-2 is higher than in Switzerland.

The recommendations include: 1) symptom screening before landing and temperature measurement at the border for all air travelers; 2) provision of written information in multiple languages; 3) flow charts for virological testing and isolation or quarantine; 4) a recommendation to download the SwissCovid digital proximity tracing app, unless they have another app based on Google/Apple Exposure Notification (GAEN).

This update has the following changes: 1) information from the Swiss Federal Council, published on 1 July 2020, about mandatory quarantine and the list of countries classified as having a high risk of COVID-19; 2) a revised method to classify countries, based on data about testing for SARS-CoV-2 and numbers of new cases; 3) recommendation for enhanced surveillance and active follow-up of imported SARS-CoV-2 cases; 4) recommendation to wear a mask on all modes of transport.

Date of request: 2/6/2020
Date of response: 14/06/2020; 25/06/2020; 13/07/2020

In response to request from: 

Comment on planned updates: 2-3 weeks after opening the borders on 15 June and when first effects can be measured

Expert groups and individuals involved: All expert groups with lead from Public Health group

Contact persons: Antoine Flahault, Nicola Low, Marcel Tanner

As the Swiss National COVID-19 Science Task Force has been disbanded as of 31 March 2022, no further epidemiological assessments, scientific updates or policy briefs will be published in the future. All previous publications, pages and information of the Science Task Force remain available on this website.