COVID-19 - How to protect yourself and others

1. Overview

As of 1st April 2022, there are no longer any mandatory protective measures in Switzerland, with the end of the isolation requirement for people testing positive for Covid-19 and the requirement to wear a mask on public transport. 

Geneva maintains at cantonal level the obligation to wear a mask in certain places and situations in order to protect vulnerable persons against Covid-19 contamination.

Where the mask must still be worn ?

In the canton of Geneva, the masks are therefore still compulsory for all persons aged 12 and over in indoor areas accessible to patients, residents or beneficiaries of : 

  • health institutions (clinics, hospitals, except for patients in their rooms)
  • day care establishments and nursing homes for the elderly (EMS) (except for residents and beneficiaries)
  • in the context of medical care at home (OSAD) for staff members who intervene in this context.
The cantonal doctor's office continues to recommend the wearing of masks in doctors' practices and pharmacies, as well as for all other health care providers who examine or treat patients/clients at home, in combination with other hygiene measures (hand washing, surface sanitation, room ventilation, distancing).

 


More information

If you didn't find the answer to your question, please contact the Covid-19 Helpline, open 7 days a week from 9am to 5pm : 0800 909 400.

All the Geneva COVID-19 information lines

    2. Keeping up good hygiene habits

    We have entered a new phase of the pandemic. This transition has been made thanks to the successful vaccination and immunisation of a part of the population due to Covid infections, and because the current Omicron variant is more infectious, but less dangerous.

    In this new phase, all mandatory sanitary measures against Covid-19 have been lifted in Switzerland by the Federal Council since April 1, 2022, and it is now up to everyone to learn to live differently with Covid-19.

    Let's keep up the good habits!

    Hand hygiene

    It is important to keep up the habit of regularly washing your hands with soap and water, or with a hydro-alcoholic solution if you are outside. With or without Covid-19, hand washing remains essential to protect yourself from viruses (Covid-19, flu, stomach flu, etc.). 

    How to wash our hands - FOPH

    Airing indoors spaces

    Frequent airing of indoor spaces is simple and easy. Remember to open the windows every hour. Regular ventilation will reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19. One of the reasons why flu is so common in winter is that we tend to keep ourselves indoors as it is warmer.

    Wearing a mask ?

    It is recommended to wear a mask in the following situations :

    • in case of symptoms
    • if you test positive for Covid-19

    A person may also wear a mask because they are vulnerable or because they feel it is personally necessary.

    Important: The canton of Geneva maintains the obligation to wear a mask in certain places and situations in order to protect vulnerable persons against Covid-19 contamination.
    Where the mask must still be worn ?

    Limiting contacts ?

    If you have symptoms or in case of a positive Covid-19 test :

    • Limit contacts with other people (e.g. going out with friends)
    • Avoid places with lots of people
    • Do not visit a vulnerable person (at least for 5-7 days after you have tested positive or the first symptoms appear).

    Other good hygiene practices 

    • Cough and sneeze into a paper tissue.
    • After use, throw the paper tissue in a trashcan and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, or an alcohol-based solution.
    • Cough and sneeze into the crook of your elbow if you don't have a paper tissue.

    3. In case of symptoms or positive test

    As of 1st of April 2022, there are no longer any isolation or quarantine measures in Switzerland.
    What should you do if you have a positive Covid-19 test or if you have symptoms?

    Now that the isolation measures have been lifted, you no longer have to stay at home. This means that, if your general condition allows it, you can also go to your workplace (or school). However, some precautions are still important for your health, and the health of people around you.

    All the recommendations listed hereafter are valid as long as you have symptoms, and for longer if you consider it necessary. If you have no symptoms but your test is positive, we recommend that you apply these precautions for at least 5 to 7 days after your test.

    • Wear a mask.
    • If you have severe or worsening symptoms or are concerned about your condition: make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible, go to the hospital emergency room or call 144.
    • If you have symptoms that prevent you from going to work: consult your employer or your family doctor. As of 1st April 2022, the cantonal doctor's office (DGS) will no longer issue a medical certificate or a decision to isolate you.
    • If possible, work from home, in agreement with your employer.
    • Warn vulnerable people with whom you have been in contact in the previous days.
    • Do not visit a vulnerable person (at least during the 5 to 7 days following your positive test or the onset of your first symptoms).
    • Limit your contact with other people (e.g. going out with friends).
    • Avoid places with lots of people.
    • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or with a hydroalcoholic solution.
    • Air out regularly by opening windows.
    • Avoid shaking hands and hugging.
    • Cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow.
    • After use, dispose of paper handkerchiefs in a waste bin and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards with soap and water, or with a hydroalcoholic solution.

    If you are living with a vulnerable person

    • If you have symptoms: perform a Covid-19 test.
    • Minimise contact within the home (e.g. avoid eating meals together, or sleeping in the same room for the duration of your symptoms or at least for 5-7 days after your test if you have no symptoms).
    • Wear a mask inside your home (both you and the vulnerable person).
    • Clean surfaces regularly.
    • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water.
    • Air the room regularly.
       

    If you are a vulnerable person

    • If you have symptoms: perform a Covid-19 test.
    • If you test positive: contact your family doctor without delay to inform him/her.
    • If you are pregnant: get tested promptly for Covid-19 symptoms, and in case of a positive result, contact your gynaecologist to discuss the next steps.
    • If you are immunosuppressed: COVID treatments are available for immunosuppressed people. They should be taken promptly after the onset of symptoms. If you think you may be immunosuppressed, contact your doctor as soon as possible or call 022 372 50 00 (HUG CoviCare), 7/7 from 9am to 5pm, for more information.
    Immunosuppressed people are people who :
    have a disease that affects their immune system (e.g. blood diseases, HIV, sickle cell disease-SCD) 
    OR
    are taking immunosuppressive treatment (e.g. treatment for cancer, treatment for autoimmune disease, people who have been transplanted).

     

    More information
    If you cannot find the answer to your question, contact the Covid-19 Helpline, open 7 days a week from 9am to 5pm at 0800 909 400.

    Consult all the COVID-19 information lines.

    4. Vulnerable persons

    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.

    What to do in case of symptoms or a positive test?

    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

    What to do in case of symptoms or a positive test? 

    How to protect other people
     

    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. It is recommended to 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.

    More information

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


    Health care providers

    Despite the lifting in Switzerland of measures contained in the Covid-19 Federal Ordinance as of 1st April 2022, Geneva maintains the obligation at a cantonal level to wear a mask in certain collective facilities for vulnerable persons in order to protect them against Covid-19 contamination.

    Masks are therefore still compulsory for all persons aged 12 and over in indoor areas accessible to patients, residents or beneficiaries of : 

    • health institutions (clinics, hospitals, except for patients in their rooms)
    • day care establishments and nursing homes for the elderly (EMS) (except for residents and beneficiaries)
    • in the context of medical care at home (OSAD) for staff members who intervene in this context.
    The cantonal doctor's office continues to recommend the wearing of masks in doctors' practices and pharmacies, as well as for all other health care providers who examine or treat patients/clients at home, in combination with other hygiene measures (hand washing, surface sanitation, room ventilation, distancing).


    More information

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

    5. Post-COVID condition or Long COVID

    The World Health Organization (WHO) refers to Long Covid (or post-Covid condition) as the presence of symptoms 3 months or more after a Covid infection, with persistence of symptoms for at least 2 months and which cannot be explained by another disease.

    Long Covid may occur after a severe Covid infection, as well as a mild one. Symptoms may even appear later even though the person had no symptoms at the time of infection.

    Preliminary studies suggest that long Covid affects about 3 out of 10 people more than 6 months after infection. It affects adults, but can also affect teenagers and, more rarely, children. It causes various discomforts and disabilities in their daily lives.

    The most common symptoms are fatigue, shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating or other symptoms that have a negative impact on daily life. Symptoms often fluctuate, and tend to improve over time, but may last for months or even longer than a year.

    You will find all the relevant information about this subject on the interactive RAFAEL platform of the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG), including a chatbot where you may address your questions directly.

    6. Children, school and COVID-19

    Since the beginning of their implementation, it was specified that prevention measures in schools would last only as long as was strictly necessary. Today, we know that children are not at risk, even with the Omicron variant. When they do become infected, they very rarely have severe infections and thus do not create a hospital overload. Furthermore, the most effective protection against COVID-19 infection is vaccination, which is freely available for all persons from the age of 5. 

    At present, there are no special measures in schools. In case of symptoms, it is the general state of health of the pupil that counts, as for adults. In case of a positive test, if the general condition allows it, the pupil can continue to go to school. It is then recommended to wear a mask from the age of 12 and to limit contact, especially with vulnerable people. In case of serious signs or concern, it is recommended to contact the paediatrician or the emergency room.

     

    Camps with sleeping accommodation

    Following the announcements of the Federal Council, effective as of 17th February 2022, camps with or without accommodation are no longer subject to any restrictions and it is no longer necessary to draw up a protection plan.

    Moreover, as of 1st April 2022, no isolation measure applies for people who test positive for Covid-19 and it is no longer mandatory to wear a mask on public transport in Switzerland. 

    However, the regulations of the canton where the camp is taking place must be respected. 

    Furthermore, it is strongly recommended that the camp organiser should provide all persons with the opportunity to disinfect their hands upon arrival, ensure that all surfaces are regularly cleaned and that regular and frequent ventilation of enclosed spaces is guaranteed.

    Vaccination

    Vaccination is recommended to all persons from the age of 12 by the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) and the cantonal doctor's office, including the booster dose.

    Vaccination of children aged 5 to 11 years old is authorised in Switzerland. In the canton of Geneva, children from the age of 5 may be vaccinated since 4th January 2022.

    More information: