Why Swiss canton Vaud is relaxing quarantine rules despite rising cases

Why Swiss canton Vaud is relaxing quarantine rules despite rising cases
Vaud's university hospital, CHUV, in Lausanne, handles the most serious Covid-19 cases. Photo by AFP
Although it has the highest number of Covid-19 cases in the country, Vaud is easing its quarantine regulations, the first Swiss canton to do so.

Until now, Vaud required people who had been in contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus to quarantine at home for 10 days.

This measure was intended to break the chain of virus transmission from one person to another — a rule that is in effect in other cantons as well.

However, on Thursday Vaud health authorities announced that only those who live in the same household as a positive person or who have intimate relations with this person, are required to quarantine. 

For all others, an ‘automatic’ quarantine will no longer be compulsory, but it will be decided on a case-to-case basis.

READ MORE: 'Worst infection rate in Switzerland': New lockdown measures introduced in Vaud 

The decision on whether to impose the quarantine will be based on the kind of contact a person had with the infected individual, health officials said.

For instance, they will be asked whether a distance of at least 1.50 metres was maintained and for how long, if there was a close physical contact such as a shared drink, or was it just a meal taken at the same table in a restaurant.

“Depending on the answers, the team responsible for tracing decides whether or not to quarantine”, Vaud’s cantonal doctor Karim Boubaker told RTS television .

Those who will be exempt from quarantine will have to self-monitor, maintain safety distances, wear the mask when necessary or compulsory, and be tested at the slightest symptom of Covid-19.

According to Boubaker, one of the reasons behind the easing of the measures is to relieve local businesses that have to operate with the shrinking workforce.

He said that instead of strict quarantines, we have “to aim for proportionality”.

Currently, 2,000 people are quarantined in the canton, out of nearly 6,455 in the whole of Switzerland.

The announcement came just as new restrictions, driven by an increasing rate of infections in the canton came into force on Thursday afternoon. 

The canton currently has 221 infections per 100,000 people, the highest in Switzerland.

Among the new restrictions are the requirement to wear a mask in all indoor settings, limiting private gatherings to 100 people, and shutting down nightclubs.

The new quarantine regulation applies only to those who have been exposed to contaminated individuals.

The rules have not changed for travellers from high-risk nations, who are still required to quarantine for 10 days after their arrival in Switzerland.



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