COVID-19 - How to protect yourself and others

1. Overview

Since the lifting of protective measures (1 April 2022), a slow but steady decline in new COVID-19 infections has been observed. However, since the beginning of June, the increase in viral circulation has been confirmed: the Omicron variant, which is the predominant one in the world, continues to spread; its two sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5, which are more transmissible than BA.2 but not, in principle, more virulent, are now the predominant ones in Geneva and are responsible for the current rebound.

 

Vaccination

Primary vaccination and the first booster dose are still recommended for the entire population. They prevent severe forms of the disease and hospitalisation.

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.

Protective measures

It is up to the various institutions and structures as well as the population to assess the situation and act accordingly.

It is still recommended that everyone applies the following trio of good practices:

  • Hand hygiene (with soap and water or hydroalcoholic gel),
  • Regular ventilation,
  • Wearing a mask when you consider it necessary (for example in crowded and poorly ventilated places and when you have symptoms).

Some places require or strongly recommend wearing a mask: please follow their instructions carefully.

 


More information

If you didn't find the answer to your question, please contact the Covid-19 Helpline, open Monday to Friday from 9an to 5pm : 0800 909 400.

All the Geneva COVID-19 information lines

    2. Keeping up good hygiene habits

    Since the lifting of protective measures (1 April 2022), a slow but steady decline in new COVID-19 infections has been observed. However, since the beginning of June, the increase in viral circulation has been confirmed: the Omicron variant, which is the predominant one in the world, continues to spread; its two sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5, which are more transmissible than BA.2 but not, in principle, more virulent, are now in a predominant position in Geneva and are responsible for the current rebound.

    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.

    To protect ourselves and others, 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.

    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?

    What are COVID-19 symptoms ?

    The coronavirus can have different symptoms. The most common are:

    • Acute respiratory tract infection : sore throat, cough (especially dry), respiratory failure, chest pain
    • Fever
    • Sudden loss of smell and/or taste
    • Headache
    • General weakness, feeling unwell
    • Muscle pain
    • Common cold
    • Gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach ache)
    • Skin rashes

    Symptoms may vary in severity and can change depending on the variant. They can also be mild. A simple cold might already be a sign of infection. Complications such as pneumonia are also possible.

    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 or if you work with vulnerable people (medical and nursing professionals)

    • If you have symptoms: perform a Covid-19 test (medical and nursing professionals).
    • 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 from Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm at 0800 909 400.

    Consult all the COVID-19 information lines.

    4. In case of contact with a positive-tested person

    What to do if you have been in contact with a positive-tested person?

    If you are a vulnerable person:

    • It is recommended that you get tested if you have symptoms;
    • Keep up good hygiene habits:  wash your hands, ventilate enclosed spaces.

    If you live with a vulnerable person:

    • It is recommended to get tested in case of symptoms;
    • Keep up good hygiene habits:   hand washing, ventilation and wearing a mask in your place of residence and outside.

    If you wish to visit a vulnerable person:

    • Postpone your visit for at least 5 days after the last contact with the positive-tested person.

    For all other situations:

    • You can get tested for free if you wish;
    • Keep up good hygiene habits: hand washing, ventilation, limiting contact, wearing a mask, coughing or sneezing into the crook of your elbow.

    More information:

    When should one get tested?
    What type of test and for which situation?

     

    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)

    6. 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. You can also find other useful information on the FOPH's website : post COVID-19 condition.

    7. 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: