Coronavirus

  • Information concerning the coronavirus in the canton of Zurich in German and English is available here. Information in French and Italian is published on the website of the Federal Office of Public Health.
  • Hier finden Sie Informationen im Zusammenhang mit dem Coronavirus im Kanton Zürich auf deutsch und englisch. Informationen auf französisch und italienisch stellt das Bundesamt für Gesundheit zur Verfügung.
  • Vous trouverez ici des informations sur le coronavirus dans le canton de Zurich en allemand et en anglais. Vous trouverez ici des informations en français et en italien de l'Office fédéral de la santé publique.
  • Qui troverete informazioni sul coronavirus nel cantone di Zurigo in tedesco e in inglese. Le informazioni in francese e in italiano sono fornite dall'Ufficio Federale della Sanità Pubblica qui per disponibile.

For basic information in / für Basisinfos in: Rumantsch, Arabisch, Portugiesisch, Spanisch, Tamilisch, Kurmandschi, Tigrinisch, Albanisch, Mandarin, Serbisch, Türkisch, Farsi und Somali  

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Current status in the Canton of Zurich

The public can contribute significantly to slowing down the spread of the coronavirus and protecting those most at risk. Visit this page regularly for information about the most important facts, rules of conduct and hygiene and the regulations in effect in the Canton of Zurich. This website will be updated on a continuous basis.  

As of March 20th 2020, the Federal Council is introducing more stringent measures to protect the public and to limit the number of severe cases of the disease in order to prevent the healthcare system from being overburdened.

The Federal Council have decided to prohibit gatherings of more than five persons. Anyone who does not abide by this rule will be fined. At gatherings of five people or less, a distance of at least two metres must be maintained between those people.  

As of March 17th 2020, all public and private events are prohibited. All shops, markets, restaurants, bars and entertainment and leisure facilities, such as museums, libraries, cinemas, concert halls and theatres, sports centres, swimming pools and ski areas are to be closed. Also affected are businesses at which the recommended distance cannot be maintained, such as hairdressers and cosmetics studios.

Provision of the entire population with foodstuffs, medicinal products and essential everyday items is assured; there are sufficient stocks. Food stores, takeaway businesses, company canteens, food home delivery services and pharmacies will remain open, as will petrol stations, railway stations, banks, post offices, hotels, public administrations and social institutions. Maintenance facilities for means of transport may remain open.

However, all of these establishments must follow the recommendations of the Federal Office of Public Health on hygiene and keeping your distance. Hospitals, clinics and medical practices will remain open, but must forego non-urgent medical procedures and treatments. People at especially high risk should work from home. If that is not possible, they are to be placed on leave by their employers, but will continue to receive their pay.

Protect the health system so that serious cases can be treated

SARS-CoV-2 transmissions in the population are increasing rapidly. The current situation is very dynamic and requires flexible action. Containment of the virus by identifying and isolating those who are ill and ordering quarantine of contact persons is no longer effective, since:

  • The symptoms are often mild and are not recognised as COVID-19 by the infected.
  • The epidemiological criterion is no longer appropriate, as people can also become infected in Switzerland.
  • The limited resources are needed for the serious cases and the persons most at risk. 

The aim now is to slow down the spread, protect people at high risk of complications (such as people over 65, people with high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, diseases and therapies that weaken the immune system, cancer) and ensure hospital capacity for serious cases.

If you are feeling ill, have fever or other flu-like symptoms, stay at home. If your complaints need to be treated, call the Ärtzefon (medical hotline) 0800 33 66 55 or your GP. Do not go to the doctors' office unless you are asked to do so.

Creating capacity in hospitals to treat coronavirus patients

To make sure that inpatient healthcare can fully function during the coronavirus pandemic, the cantonal Department of Health has directed the hospitals to ensure that the necessary treatment capacities are available for this. To that end, as of Saturday, 21st March 2020, the hospitals may only perform urgently needed medical interventions. The aim is to save supplies and staff resources so that they are ready and available for the treatment of coronavirus patients.

Protect yourself and others

Follow these rules of conduct and hygiene:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly
  • Catch sneezes and coughs in disposable tissues or in the crook of your arm
  • Throw away used paper tissues in sealed waste bins
  • Avoid shaking hands and avoid close contact with other people as much as possible

Help reduce the spread of the coronavirus by adopting the following measures:

  • Avoid close contact with children and the elderly, and people with chronic illness.
  • Do not visit events or places where close contact with large numbers of people is unavoidable.
  • Reduce visits to old people’s homes and nursing homes, and follow any further precautionary measures, in addition to the rules of conduct and hygiene, of the respective institutions.
  • Keep your distance: Protect the elderly by keeping a safe distance, keep your distance from others in a queue, keep your distance at meetings.

Origin of the coronavirus

The new coronavirus was detected in late 2019 in China due to an unusually high number of pneumonia cases in the city of Wuhan in Central China. The World Health Organization (WHO) announced “COVID-19” (coronavirus disease 2019) as the name of the disease caused by the virus on 11th February 2020. The coronavirus has since spread to numerous countries worldwide.  

Visiting ban

The cantonal Department of Health has ordered a ban on visits to all hospitals, old people’s homes, nursing homes and establishments for the disabled in the Canton of Zurich. The visiting ban has been in effect since 13th March and shall, at this point, apply until 30th April 2020.

Implementing the visiting ban in the Canton of Zurich

The pandemic contingency plan of most institutions in the Canton of Zurich provides for a visiting ban. Some institutions have already introduced a ban. The Department of Health is now stipulating common rules, which are binding for all organisations.

The cantonal Department of Health met with representatives of Zurich’s listed hospitals on 11th March, to discuss and define a common approach in dealing with COVID-19 patients. The visiting ban was among the topics discussed. The provision now agreed upon is to be understood as a common consensus between the Department of Health and the listed hospitals.

A general visiting ban applies to hospitals. No one is allowed to visit patients in a hospital. The hospital management may grant general or case-by-case exceptions for individual patient groups in objectively well-founded cases (e.g. parents of children, partners of birthing mothers, palliative patients). In such exceptional cases, no more than two people may visit a patient at the same time. The hospital management shall specify the details – especially the maximum duration of visits and the maximum number of visitors per day – and shall ensure that the visiting ban is implemented. These provisions apply mutatis mutandis to birthing centres.

A general visiting ban applies to old people’s homes, nursing homes and establishments for the disabled. The management of the respective institution may make exceptions to the visiting ban on a case-by-case basis for objectively well-founded reasons (e.g. palliative care). The institution’s management shall ensure that the visiting ban is implemented.

The visiting ban applies both ways, meaning the residents of the respective institutions are not allowed to go with relatives to their homes or on outings.

The visiting ban is not a quarantine, which means residents are not forbidden to leave the building of the respective institution for walks or similar. However, the institution’s management is to consider each case individually and weigh up the interests as to how long and how far a walk or similar may be. The rules and recommendations of the Federal Office of Public Health and the cantonal Department of Health (social distancing, no touching, washing hands with soap or use of disinfectant, coughing and sneezing in crook of arm only) must be adhered to on all accounts.

The staff in the homes and institutions need to be sensitised to the protective measures so that they can implement them rigorously and, in so doing, protect themselves as well.

Just like the staff, volunteer workers in the homes and institutions need to be sensitised to the protective measures, so that they can implement them rigorously and, in so doing, protect themselves as well.

Providers of external services and outpatient therapies are required to carefully weigh up the interests and make a decision based on each situation. Provided the protective measures are fully adhered to, these activities may, in principle, still continue at this time.

The ban also extends to restaurants and cafeterias in old people’s homes, nursing homes and institutions for the disabled. They must remain closed for external persons (including for residents of flats for senior citizens located within an old people’s or a nursing home). In case of need, appropriate steps are to be taken to ensure that food is supplied (Meals on Wheels, food delivery from the respective home, etc.).

The ban does not apply to “Wohnen im Alter” (old age living) or “Alterswohnungen” (flats for senior citizens), provided this form of housing is physically separate from an old people’s home or nursing home. However, the ban always applies when residents of flats for senior citizens would otherwise enter an old people’s home or a nursing home, e.g. for meals. The residents of flats for senior citizens are also instructed to adhere to the recommendations of conduct of the Federal Office of Public Health and the cantonal Department of Health.

Precautionary measures and rules of conduct for elderly people

Whereas young and middle-aged people with COVID-19 mostly present with mild flu-like symptoms, according to the global data available so far, elderly people, especially people over eighty, partly come down with severe cases of the disease. Apart from age, underlying ailments, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer, increase the risk of suffering a severe case of COVID-19.

Minimise contact-related risks

  • Weigh up the general risk of travel (air travel, train travel, contact risk, etc.) very carefully
  • Favour phone calls with grandchildren and family/friends as a temporary substitute in lieu of face-to-face contacts
  • Whenever possible, postpone family festivities, events and gatherings
  • Relatives should adhere to the same precautionary measures
  • Refrain from having routine check-ups in the hospital or GP practice at this time  

Special precautionary measures for elderly people

  • Avoid public transport as much as possible, especially during rush hour
  • Avoid shopping during rush hour times, or have a friend or neighbour do your shopping for you
  • Take daily walks outdoors in the fresh air, though always adhere to the rule of social distancing when doing so 

Boost your immune system:

  • Eat regularly and include sufficient protein intake in every meal
  • Eat fruit and vegetables daily to ensure a sufficient supply of vitamin C
  • Avoid a vitamin D deficiency (intake of 800 IU/day)
  • Make sure to get enough sleep and do not drink alcohol excessively  

Volunteering made simple: «five up»

Easily organize and get support in your private environment with this app.  

Information for health professionals

The Department of Health of the Canton of Zurich has issued directives on how to proceed in the event of suspected cases of COVID-19. These directives are supplementary to the mandatory measures of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH). The directives of the Canton of Zurich apply until national guidelines are available, and shall be adjusted if necessary.

The directives are divided in “Standard Operating Procedures COVID-19 ZH and SH” for the entire medical profession and the “Spitalkonzept COVID-19 ZH und SH” chiefly for hospitals.  

Information concerning public transport

Following the announcement of the extraordinary situation
for the whole of Switzerland, the system leaders in the public transport sector (SBB and PostBus), in agreement with the Federal Office of Transport, have decided to reduce the public transport services on offer. The reasons for this are a decline in demand and possible staff shortages. The first reductions in long-distance traffic will take effect on Thursday, 19 March 2020.

The first adjustment in the ZVV concerns the nighttime network: It will be terminated immediately and until further notice, as will the other weekend night services in Switzerland. As of Monday, 23 March 2020, there will be further reductions in the entire ZVV area.

The Canton of Zurich supports the federal government's aim of ensuring that public transport is maintained as long as possible. The reduction of services will be coordinated throughout Switzerland. The following overall objectives are being pursued in the adaptation:

  • Maintaining the basic offer, including first and last courses.
  • Maintaining functioning travel chains, i.e. good coordination of connections without creating large numbers of travellers in one spot.
  • The social distancing requirement can be maintained.
  • Lines to hospitals and other basic supply facilities (distribution centres etc.) are given priority.

Details on the adjustments can be found here.

The transportation companies ask their customers to make only absolutely necessary journeys and to stay at home in case of symptoms of illness. Passengers are asked to:

  • check the online timetable at www.zvv.ch before each journey; it will be updated continuously.
  • buy their tickets electronically (webshop, app).
  • follow the hygiene guidelines of the Federal Office of Public Health.

You can find all current information under:
https://news.sbb.ch/artikel/95750/coronavirus-die-sbb-unterstuetzt-die-empfehlungen-des-bundes (in german)

Information for the media

Media releases, media conferences, video with the cantonal medical office (available in German)