7. High risk population groups


Who are the high risk population groups?

High risk population groups include:

  • Persons aged 65 years+
  • People of all ages suffering from diseases such as cancer, diabetes, immune weakness due to disease or therapy, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory diseases
  • People with significant obesity (BMI equal to or over 40, i.e. 40kg/m2)
  • Pregnant women.

For more detailed information, check the FOPH website and document Categories of persons at high risk and the COVID-19 federal ordonnance 2.

Vulnerable people can develop a serious form of the disease and must be protected. If you are not sure whether you are a vulnerable person or not, please contact your doctor.

Recommendations for high risk population groups

Lifting of measures as of 22 June 2020

  • Instructions for the protection of vulnerable persons are lifted, as is the recommendation for them to carry out teleworking from home.
  • Vulnerable persons can therefore return to their workplace. However, employers are obliged to take appropriate measures to protect the health of their employees in accordance with the labour law.
  • Security distances are now set at 1.5 metres. If this is not possible, a mask must be worn in accordance with safe handling practices.


Easing of measures as of 11 May 2020

  • You can leave your home again if you closely observe all rules of hygiene and conduct.
  • Strictly respect the physical social distances of 2 metres; if that otherwise impossible, put on a mask using careful handling practices.
  • Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly. Strict hand hygiene is applied before and after all physical contact. When travelling, take a hydro-alcoholic solution with you and use it to clean your hands regularly.
  • Avoid crowded areas (e.g. railway stations, public transport) and rush hours (e.g. Saturday shopping, public transport commuter traffic).
  • If possible, ask your friends or neighbours to do your shopping for you or place an order on the internet or by phone. You can also be assisted by various organisations, in your municipality or via the Internet.
  • Handle your business and private appointments by phone, Skype or similar means of communication.
  • If you have to go to the doctor, go by car, bike or on foot. If this is not possible, take a taxi. Keep a distance of at least two metres from other people and observe hygiene rules.
  • If you are working and are vulnerable because of a pre-existing medical condition, your employer must protect you.
  • If you have one or more symptoms such as a cough (usually dry), a sore throat, difficulty breathing, fever, muscle pain or sudden loss of smell and/or taste, call your doctor or a hospital immediately. Even on weekends. Describe your symptoms and point out that you are a vulnerable person.

Recommendations for persons in contact with high risk population group members

By maintaining a greater social distance, by temporarily accepting to change one's habits and by being particularly careful, we limit the risk of exposing others, especially high risk persons, the elderly and persons suffering from one or more chronic diseases.

  • Establish a safe social distance with vulnerable people while keeping contact through other means (telephone, etc.).
  • Follow hygiene and behaviour recommendations in a meticulous manner (no handshaking, no kissing, regular handwashing, etc.).
  • When possible, postpone all family events.
  • If you are symptomatic, postpone all visits to high risk persons. 

You are a caregiver looking after a vulnerable person

The new coronavirus is particularly dangerous for people aged over 65 and those already suffering from certain illnesses. If you are looking after a dependent vulnerable person or sharing a household, your task is very valuable in these circumstances.You must however protect yourself as well as the cared person.

Recommendations if you share the household of a vulnerable person you are caring for:

  • If possible, telework.
  • Talk to people around you, share how you feel and ask for help and support, especially younger people who are familiar with the new social media environment.
  1. The Proch'Info hotline 058 317 7000 (Mon to Fri 9:00-12:00 - 14:00 to 17:00) will put you in touch with the institution or association that can  meet your specific needs. 
  2. The Solidarité Urgence sociale hotline 0800 44 77 00 set up by the city of Geneva (7/7 9:00 -17:00) for people who need support or guidance in the field of social benefits, food aid, financial aid or emergency assistance during a health crisis. For people living outside the City of Geneva, please contact your commune.     
  3. If you have any anxieties and need to speak to someone, you may contact 0800 909 400 or the Main tendue (143) or the HUG psychiatric emergencies (022 372 38 62). You can also find information on the www.santepsy.ch. website.
  • Let other people do your shopping.
  • If your dependent person is receiving home nursing care and assistance, he/she can continue to receive their support. The imad teams and other specialised organisations are trained in all necessary hygiene measures.
  • For other support services such as housekeepers, tradesmen, etc., you might need to assess how urgent the service they provide is. In any case, remember to maintain a distance of at least two metres from other people with whom you are occasionally in contact.

  • If you or the dependent person you are caring for needs to go to the doctor, call first. If you are invited to go to your doctor's office, use your car, walk or take a taxi. Call 144 in case of emergency. Always keep at least 2 metres away from other people.


In case you fall ill while caring for a dependent person living with you or living outside your home:

  • If you fall ill,  you will have to place yourself in self-isolation, even if you have only mild symptoms.

  • Don't forget to prepare a "B plan" in order to identify persons who can replace you in case you are sick.

    The Pro model may help you organize a "plan B" in case of emergency.

    For hospitalized or Covid-19 positive tested care-givers, the EMS Les Erables / Petit-Saconnex retirement home has opened 12 beds to take in and look after asymptomatic dependent persons, in partnership with the Geneva Alzheimer's Association. For more information:  T - 022 730 70 02

  • Prepare a letter with useful information for organizing your replacement. Ideally, write this letter in consultation with the dependent person being cared for. Here are some points you could cover:
  1. What support does the person in care need?
  2. What medicines should the person being cared for take? When should they take them? Where are the medicines available?
  3. Who needs to be contacted?Provide the names and telephone numbers of the most important doctors and other professionals.
  4. What things can the person being cared for do themselves?
  5. Has the cared for person prepared any advance directives or a living will?
  • You can also ask for an Caregiver Emergency Card, which allows health and social professionals to identify you as a caregiver of a dependent person and to notify someone who is ready to take over and whose contact information is provided.



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