Switzerland’s government and health officials presented a coronavirus update yesterday. Key elements of the presentation are set out below.
The full coronavirus press update can be viewed above in German.
Closing borders is now pointless
Patrick Mathys, who is leading the coronavirus response at the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), said epidemiologically that closing the borders would achieve nothing and would not slow the spread of the virus. It’s too late. Perhaps if it had been done immediately it would have worked, he said.
Will the ban on gatherings be extended?
Mathys said he thinks so. We must prepare for it.
What about international trains?
Christian Bock, the federal customs director, said his department isn’t responsible for this decision, but said that there was no reason to stop trains.
Will there be enough hospital emergency space?
Patrick Mathys, said he didn’t know exact numbers but that there are still enough places. He also said that reschedulable operations, such as hip replacements, would be postponed if required.
Would this be over by mid-May?
Mathys thinks the epidemic could be over by mid-May but that it depends on many factors that are impossible to confirm at this stage.
Will struggling businesses get any aid?
This is not the focus right now but emergency lending would be an excellent measure, according to Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch, director of SECO.
Partial unemployment applications accelerated
Ineichen-Fleisch, encouraged employers to use partial unemployment as quickly as possible to mitigate the cashflow impact of the epidemic on their businesses. Companies can now cut staff hours and pay within three days of applying, down from 10 days.