COVID-19 - How to protect yourself and others

5. Vulnerable persons

As of 1st April 2022, Switzerland has moved into the normalisation phase and lifted almost all COVID measures. 

On 25th May 2022, the State Council of Geneva lifted the obligation to wear a mask in certain establishments serving vulnerable persons (hospitals, clinics, medico-social establishments (EMS) and nursing homes for the elderly) and in the context of medical home care for employees. The lifting of the obligation came into force on 30th May 2022. However, the cantonal doctor's office still recommends that masks be worn in these institutions and in health care facilities, in certain specific situations.

Since mid-June, an increase in new COVID-19 infections has been observed in the canton as well as in Switzerland. The Omicron variant, which is in the predominant variant worldwide, continues to spread; its two sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5, which are more transmissible than BA.2 but not more virulent, are now in the majority in Geneva and are responsible for the current increase. 

We remind you that primary vaccination and the first booster dose are always recommended to the whole population. They protect against severe forms of the disease and against hospitalisation. In addition, some places require or strongly recommend the wearing of a mask: please follow their instructions carefully.

Since 5 July 2022, the renewal of the booster vaccination (also known as 2nd booster) is recommended for people aged 80 years and over, in order to increase their protection against a severe course of the disease since, due to their age, these people are more at risk of contracting a severe form of COVID-19. Recommendation for the 2nd booster vaccination renewal also applies to any person over 12 years of age with severe immunodeficiency. At present, the 2nd booster is not recommended for other groups of people.


Who is a vulnerable person?

People who are frail or vulnerable are at higher risk and need to be more careful than others. This means, for example, wearing a mask in certain situations, especially in crowded and poorly ventilated places, and protecting themselves from people who have symptoms or who test positive for Covid-19.

  • People aged 65 and over
  • Pregnant women
  • Adults with trisomy 21
  • Adults with the following diseases: cancer, immune deficiency (immunosuppression) due to disease or therapy, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, pulmonary and respiratory diseases, chronic kidney disease, liver cirrhosis, severe obesity.
Vulnerable people can develop a severe form of the disease and should be protected. If you are concerned about whether you are a vulnerable person, contact your family doctor.
  • Pregnant women: 
    It is important that pregnant women continue to protect themselves by following the rules of hygiene and conduct. Getting Covid-19 (even the omicron variant) presents a high risk for the pregnancy and the unborn child. 
    At the work place, the lifting of the measures by the Federal Council does not mean that all protective measures have been removed. Swiss Labour Law requires the employer to continue to protect the health of his employees against Covid-19. Further information, including about protection at work, can be found on the SECO website and in the position document of the Swiss Society for Gynaecology and Obstetrics (SSGO).
    Pregnant women who have not yet been vaccinated and have not received their booster dose are still recommended to do so after the first term. Vaccination provides the best protection against a severe infection for both the pregnant woman and her unborn child. In case of symptoms of Covid-19, pregnant women are advised to get tested promptly and, in case of a positive result, to contact their gynaecologist to discuss the next steps.

More information

Persons in contact with a vulnerable person
Persons visiting a vulnerable person 

In case of symptoms (Covid-19, flu, stomach flu...) or a positive test for Covid-19:

  • Do not visit a vulnerable person.
  • Wait until the end of the symptoms and at least 5 to 7 days after your positive test or the beginning of the first symptoms.
  • When visiting, maintain hygiene measures such as hand washing and airing the room you are in.

In case of contact with a person who has tested positive for Covid-19 :

  • Postpone your visit for at least 5 days after the last contact.

More information

Homes for elderly people and medical institutions (Etablissements médico-sociaux (EMS) et institutions de santé - in French only) 

Health care providers

The cantonal doctor's office continues to recommend the use of masks in health care establishments, homes for the elderly, nursing homes and related institutions, as well as in the context of medical day care, in the following situations:

  • person who shows symptoms (e.g. patient in the waiting room of a surgery);
  • in confined areas that are difficult to ventilate where vulnerable people are likely to be (e.g. a windowless room);
  • in care situations involving close and/or prolonged contact (e.g. physiotherapy exercises).

More information

Health professionals and health care network (Professionnels de santé et réseau de soins - in French only)

Last updated
19 August 2022

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