Unvaccinated holidaymakers urged to take a Covid test

Taking off: travellers aplenty in Zurich airport in early July. Keystone / Walter Bieri

With inoculation rates slowing, Swiss health officials have launched a campaign asking non-vaccinated travellers to get tested after returning from their summer trips.

This content was published on August 3, 2021 - 16:45

“Even if you don’t have symptoms, get tested after the holidays”: this is the slogan of a new campaign launched by the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), senior official Virginie Masserey told media in Bern on Tuesday.

Masserey said the Covid situation was still “uncertain”, with relatively high case numbers (more than 1,000 reported on Tuesday) alongside low hospitalisation and death rates (53 and zero on Tuesday, respectively).

The call for non-vaccinated people to get tested after their travels (whether inside Switzerland or abroad) comes as the vaccination rate has slowed after months of steady progress. As of Tuesday, 48.4% of the population has received two doses, or 69% of adults.

This is lower than many other countries in Europe, and means there are “still enough non-immune people in Switzerland to risk an overburdening of hospitals” should another wave of infections take off, Masserey said.

While respecting people’s decision not to get vaccinated, she said the risks of health complications due to contracting the virus are about 1,000 times higher than the risk of problems after a bad reaction to the vaccine.

No more concerning variants

Also on Tuesday, the FOPH announced it had updated its “list of countries with a variant of concernExternal link” by removing the three remaining countries.

Until now, non-vaccinated travellers from India, Nepal, and the United Kingdom had to undergo a ten-day quarantine on arrival in Switzerland, due to the prevalence of certain coronavirus strains.

Now that there are no more countries on the “variant list”, the stipulations set by the FOPH for arrival are that unvaccinated people arriving by plane must present a valid negative test, but there are no more quarantine requirements.

Separately to the FOPH, however, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) determines the rules for who exactly is allowed to enter Switzerland at any one time; travellers can check the restrictions and conditions of their trips on the official Swiss travel-checkExternal link programme.

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