Tracing The Corona Virus Through Switzerland

Original published by SRF News

The corona virus continues to spread in Switzerland. There are currently over 30 confirmed cases. The authorities still know exactly how and who infected the sick people…but that could change soon, says Patrick Mathys from the Federal Office of Public Health (BAG).

Is the transmission chain in Switzerland still understandable (i.e. within containable levels)?

Patrick Mathys: “So far we still know the ways through which the affected people have been infected. However, I assume that with the increasing number of cases that can be expected in Switzerland, the capacities for tracing contacts in the cantons are reaching their limits. And it is likely that sooner or later there will also be cases in which it is no longer possible to pinpoint where and how the patients were infected.”

What happens if you don’t anymore know who got infected where?

It is then likely that the population will spread. If we can no longer interrupt the transmission chain, we will certainly take further measures so that especially those who have a particular risk are properly protected. At the moment, these are older people and people with existing underlying illnesses.

Is it recommended that everyone be tested when displaying symptoms?

Not while we still know the transmission chain. If we can no longer trace them back, we will have to change the strategy in this regard. Then it will certainly no longer be the case that only abroad is considered a possible contact to confirmed cases, but also Switzerland. Immediately after an infection, it is impossible to prove it by a test.

There is no many more cases that simply haven’t been tested?

It can be assumed that there are other, as yet undiscovered cases in Switzerland. What we’re seeing right now are broadcasts that took place a few days ago. After the infection, it also takes a certain amount of time before symptoms appear on the one hand, but also until positive results can be demonstrated on the other. Immediately after an infection, it is impossible to prove it by a test.

One measure that can delay the spread of the disease is quarantine. How far must or can such a quarantine go?
It is a question of feasibility, how many people can be quarantined – and whether that makes sense. In the cantons, you will surely soon reach your limits, so that it will no longer be possible to monitor and look after every single person who is in quarantine.