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Switzerland: Parts of Germany, Italy and Austria added to coronavirus quarantine list

Switzerland has expanded its mandatory quarantine list, adding parts of Germany, Italy and Austria - as well as seven other countries. Germany’s two largest cities have been placed on the list.

Switzerland: Parts of Germany, Italy and Austria added to coronavirus quarantine list
Parts of Germany, Austria and Italy have been added to the list. Image: GIAN EHRENZELLER / POOL / AFP

Switzerland on Friday expanded its list of ‘high risk’ countries and regions from which arrivals will be required to quarantine. 

Regions of Germany, Austria and Italy have been added to the list.

In addition, the countries of Georgia, Iran, Jordan, Canada, Russia, Slovakia and Tunisia have been added to the list. 

Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Namibia, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago have been removed. 

Quarantine: How does Switzerland decide a country is 'high risk'? 

The ten-day quarantine restrictions, aimed at stemming the spread of the novel coronavirus, come into force from Monday, October 12th. 

 

 

The German city states of Berlin and Hamburg have been placed on the list. 

The Italian region of Campania – which includes the city of Naples – has been added to the list, along with Sardinia and Veneto.

Liguria is the only other region of Italy on the list, having previously been added on September 28th. 

UPDATE: Everything you need to know about Switzerland's quarantine rules 

Arrivals from the Austrian states of Burgenland and Salzburg will also be required to quarantine. Vienna has been on the list since September 11th, while Upper Austria and Lower Austria were added on September 28th

Switzerland is continuing to exempt immediate border regions in neighbouring countries from the quarantine requirements.

When placed on the list on September 14th, France and Austria were broken up into regions rather than considered as a whole country due to the importance of the border regions to the Swiss economy. 

In making the announcement, Swiss health minister Alain Berset effectively implied that border regions would remain exempt from quarantine requirements due to the economic and social connections which span both sides of the border.

The government in Bern said earlier this month it was seeking a “pragmatic” approach by exempting areas impacted by heavy cross-border trade, and which are home to many who cross over daily to work in Switzerland.

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COVID-19

Austria in shock over doctor’s suicide following anti-vax abuse

Austrians expressed shock and anger this week over the suicide of doctor who had been the target of a torrent of abuse and threats from anti-vaccination protesters.

Austria in shock over doctor's suicide following anti-vax abuse

The bells of Vienna’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral rang out in memory of Lisa-Maria Kellermayr on Monday, and hundreds of people held a candle vigil outside, after the 36-year-old doctor was found dead at her practice on July 29.

She had long been the target of death threats because of her criticism of the widespread anti-lockdown protests of 2021.

An autopsy later confirmed that Kellermayr had taken her own life.

Austria has found itself deeply polarised over coronavirus restrictions and in particular a government policy –subsequently dropped — of making vaccination against the coronavirus compulsory.

Kellermayr — whose practice was in the region of Upper Austria where immunisation rates are particularly low — had frequently complained of the menace.

“For more than seven months, we have been receiving… death threats from those opposed to coronavirus measures and vaccinations,” she wrote at the time, sharing a message from one internet user who said they would pose as a patient in order to attack her and her staff.

She described how she had “invested more than 100,000 euros” ($102,000) in measures to ensure her patients’ safety and was on the brink of bankruptcy.

Then, at the end of June, Kellermayr announced on her professional website that she would not be seeing patients until further notice.

Daniel Landau, who organised a memorial vigil for her in Vienna, said that Kellermayr had become a virtual recluse for several weeks. “She didn’t dare to leave” her office, Landau told AFP.

Fanning the aggression

On Saturday, the head of Austria’s doctors’ association, Johannes Steinhart, said that while aggressive behaviour towards medical staff was not new, it had been “fired up and noticeably aggravated” by the debate over Covid-19 and vaccines.

The police, who had previously suggested Kellermayr was exploiting the situation for attention, insist they did everything to protect her. The local prosecutor’s office also rejected suggestions it could have done more.

“As soon as we received the police report (identifying one of the suspects), we sent it over to the relevant authorities in Germany,” spokesman Christoph Weber said.

On Friday, prosecutors in the neighbouring German state of Bavaria said a 59-year-old suspect was being investigated by a specialist hate speech unit.

At the beginning of the week, Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen visited the small town of Seewalchen where Kellermayr lived to lay flowers in her memory.

After news of her death broke, he had appealed to Austrians to “put an end to intimidation and fear”.

‘They’re gagging us’

But on some Telegram groups, the hateful messages continue.

“Some people are celebrating her death; others believe the vaccine killed her,” said Ingrid Brodnig, a journalist and author who investigates online disinformation.

“Stricts laws exist” already against online hate, but not enough is done to implement them, Brodnig said.

One government minister has floated the idea of a separate prosecutor’s office to target such cases. Doctors and researchers have also been targeted elsewhere.

French infectious disease specialist, Karine Lacombe, described how she had been vilified for her work as part of a collective of doctors combatting coronavirus-related disinformation.

She, too, complained that the response from the authorities in the face of threats was not robust enough, and has scaled down her public appearances this year.

“You end up thinking that the risk isn’t worth it,” she told AFP. “In that sense (the aggressors) have won, they are gagging us,” she said.

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