- There are now 15 confirmed cases of coronavirus across Switzerland, and more than 100 people in the quarantine area.
- Due to the coronavirus, Italy is no longer taking asylum seekers from Switzerland.
- The State Department of Ticino cancelled all upcoming carnival games and announced two hockey games would be played without spectators.
The Swiss Federal Council, citing a “special” situation in terms of the Epidemics Act, has banned major events with more than 1,000 participants. Health Minister Alain Berset told the media on Friday morning that this was done as a precautionary measure. For example, the Basel Carnival, the Geneva Motor Show, concerts, and football or ice hockey games are all affected. Office buildings with more than 1,000 people are not affected by this measure.
“In view of the current situation and the spread of the coronavirus, the Federal Council has categorised the situation in Switzerland as ‘special’ in terms of the Epidemics Act,” the cabinet said in a statement. There are now 15 confirmed cases of coronavirus across Switzerland, and more than 100 people in the quarantine area. Berset confirmed this at a press conference on Friday.
The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) provides millions of Swiss francs for coronavirus-related research. SNSF announced on Twitter Wednesday that researchers from all disciplines are required to report. This is the first time a National Foundation has provided funding for an emergency. The National Fund will launch a corresponding conference call on March 6.
Due to the coronavirus, Italy is no longer taking asylum seekers from Switzerland. As announced by the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) on Wednesday, re-admissions under the Dublin Guidelines are suspended until further notice. Switzerland has postponed repatriation.
Coronaviruses have undoubtedly affected the entire country, with cases in Ticino, Zurich, Basel, Geneva, Vaud, and Aargau cantons. Therefore, the Federal Council held a special meeting on Friday to announce these special circumstances. The special position allows the federal government to lead under the Epidemic Act. So far, under normal circumstances, the states are leading.
Now, in an epidemiological emergency, the Federal Council can, after consulting the states, take steps to deal with the population or force the medical community to help fight the disease. In addition, vulnerable people must be vaccinated. However, law enforcement remains the responsibility of the states. Even under special circumstances, the federal government maintains a federal style.
Berset said Switzerland was fully prepared. As a result, since the end of February, ten laboratories in Switzerland have been prepared for a total of 1,000 tests per day. This ensures fast diagnosis. The telephone hotline has also been expanded to allow more than 1,500 calls per day. He said at a press conference, “we want to minimize further infections.”
Among the cancelled major events are the Geneva Motor Show, which was to begin on March 5, and attracts more than 600,000 visitors each year. This will also affect the Basel Carnival, which started on Monday. The UN Human Rights Council is also currently meeting in Geneva, with 10,000 participants in four weeks, including 4,000 from abroad.
The State Department of Ticino cancelled all upcoming carnival games and announced two hockey games would be played without spectators. Organizers of the Engadin Marathon and the Watches & Wonders in Geneva have canceled the event on Thursday due to the coronavirus.