COVID-19 (coronavirus)

SARS-CoV-2 is the name given to the new strain of coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease.


SARS-CoV-2 is the name given to the new strain of coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease. It presents with fever, a dry cough and a general feeling of being unwell. It mostly clears up without complications after a few days. However, the disease can take a more serious and potentially fatal course, leading to severe shortness of breath and pneumonia in persons at risk (in particular, frail patients with chronic diseases). The most important preventive measures include thorough hand hygiene and the avoidance of public spaces.


General symptoms
Mild progression (>80% of cases)
  • Mild cases are the norm
  • Heals without complications after a few days
Serious progression (up to 14% of cases)
  • Can affect patients of all ages
  • Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing
  • Severe pneumonia
  • Possibly, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)
  • Mortality rate: based on current statistics, 0.5 - 3% of patients
Persons particularly at risk

Causes and treatment


  • Infection with "SARS-CoV-2” strain of coronavirus
    • First identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019
    • Virus originated in animals and was transmitted to humans
  • Persons of all ages can catch the infection
  • Classified as a pandemic by the WHO
  • Please note: The SARS pandemic of 2002/2003 was also triggered by a coronavirus, but by a different strain
  • Droplet infection (respiratory tract secretions, sneezing, coughing)
    • The virus enters the body via the mucous membranes of the nose, mouth and eyes
    • As a rule, close contact (< 2 metres for > 15 minutes) is needed for transmission
  • Virus survives on hands and surfaces for several hours (doorbells, doorknobs, etc.)
    • Transmitted via the hands: contact with the virus, then touching the face, for example
Incubation period
  • Time from infection to first symptoms
  • Max. 14 days
  • Virus can already be passed on

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Physical examination
  • Laboratory test (PCR protocol)
    • Virus swab
    • Nasal, pharyngeal or lower respiratory tract secretion
  • Oxygen saturation measurement
  • Blood test (e.g. blood gas analysis)
Possible therapies
  • Outpatient treatment
    • Mild progression without risk factors
    • At-home quarantine for 14 days
  • Inpatient treatment
    • Only if condition worsens
    • Monitoring of vital signs (oxygen saturation, blood pressure, pulse, etc.)
    • Supply of oxygen
    • Trial with existing ant-viral medication, if necessary
    • Treatment in intensive care unit, with artificial respiration if necessary

What can I do myself?

Observe general measures to prevent infection
  • Don’t shake hands or hug when you greet people
  • Stay at home if you have fever and a cough
  • Hand hygiene
    • Every time after contact with surfaces that may be contaminated or sick persons
    • Wash hands with liquid soap and warm water
    • Hand sanitation: first dry the hands, apply sanitiser and keep hands moist for 30 seconds
    • Remember: thumbs, spaces between fingers, and fingernails
  • Coughing/sneezing etiquette
    • Turn away from the table and other people
    • Use a paper tissue, then throw it away
    • Alternatively, sneeze/cough into the crook of the arm (hands stay clean ...)
  • Avoid exposure
    • Avoid public gatherings of people (airports, exhibitions, events)
    • Avoid rush hour (public transport, shopping), even better: totally avoid public transport
    • Keep a distance of 2m to other people (incl. when queuing and at meetings)
    • Work from home (remote working) whenever possible
    • Don't travel to areas where case numbers are high, even better: don’t travel at all at present
    • Right now, stay at home as much as possible, and definitely if you have fever and a cough
  • Face masks
    • Sensible if you're ill (to prevent passing the virus on to others)
    • For the general public: probably pointless and ineffective (not recommended)
  • Protection of persons at risk
    • Limit contact (e.g. phone/write instead of visit)
    • Do their shopping for them
Government instructions during the 2020 corona pandemic

When to see a doctor?

  • Contact your family doctor or a hospital by phone if you have fever, a cough, breathing problems or flu symptoms
  • The general rule: DON’T go to the emergency department every time you have the sniffles (relieves pressure on the emergency services)

Further information

Federal Office of Public Health (Bundesamt für Gesundheit)
Do you have symptoms but aren't sure what to do? Answer all the questions in the check as best you can. Then you will be given a recommendation of what to do.
FOPH hotline: (+41) 58 463 00 00 (De, Fr, It and En)

Latest information about health issues in different countries


coronavirus (COVID-19), corona virus, COVID-19, COVID19, COVID-2019, SARS-CoV-2, 2019-nCoV, SARS-CoV, corona

Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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