Health authorities monitor COVID-19 in Italy

A man in Casalpusterlengo, one the northern Italian towns placed under lockdown, and not far from the Swiss border Keystone / Andrea Fasani

Switzerland's Federal Office of Public HealthExternal link is keeping a close eye on the situation in Italy, where two people have died of the new coronavirus.

This content was published on February 23, 2020 minutes

No further measures are currently being considered. However, the situation could change rapidly, a spokesperson for the health office told Swiss news agency Keystone-SDA on Sunday. The office would not comment on measures being taken by other countries to handle the outbreak of the virus that originated in China.

A dozen towns in northern Italy were placed under quarantine on Sunday. More than 100 cases have been recorded in the region, according to the governor of Lombardy, who says "more border controls are needed".

Lombardy shares a border with the Swiss cantons of Ticino and Graubünden. Some 68,000 cross-border workers come into Ticino from Italy every day.

In quarantine

As a precaution, hospitals in Ticino will place patients with flu-like symptoms in quarantine, reported the newspaper Il caffè della domenica. However, cantonal physician Giorgio Merlani told Keystone-SDA that people with symptoms should get in touch with a doctor or clinic by phone rather than leaving home.

As of yet there have been no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in Switzerland.

A dozen Swiss who had been on a cruise ship in Asia are due to be quarantined in Switzerland. In addition, a further five Swiss and two of their Chinese relatives are being flown back to Switzerland.

Worldwide, 78,500 people have been infected with COVID-19; more than 2,400 have died.

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