The Swiss government has banned any events with more than 1,000 people in attendance in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus, including carnivals, sports fixtures, festivals and private events.
The ban takes effect immediately and will remain in place until at least 15th March, hitting the Swiss carnival season which usually brings thousands of revellers to towns and cities across the county. The Guardian reports The Basel Carnival, listed by UNESCO as an important part of cultural heritage, will likely be cancelled having been set to take place next week.
Switzerland currently has 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19 coronavirus after the country confirmed its first infection on Wednesday. The total number of confirmed cases in the UK stands at 19, with the first case in Wales announced this morning.
Organisers of Swiss events with less than 1,000 people attending must carry out a risk assessment with local authorities before they can go ahead. Big office buildings, public transport and ski resorts are unaffected because “individual hygiene methods” can be applied.
In a statement, the Swiss government said: “The Federal Council is aware that this measure will have a significant impact on public life in Switzerland. However, the move is expected to provide effective protection to people in Switzerland and to public health. It should prevent or delay the spread of the disease in Switzerland, thus reducing its momentum.”
The Geneva International Motor Show, which was set to attract around 650,000 people, has been cancelled in the wake of the country-wide ban, which is being enforced under an epidemics law introduced in 2016. Fairs, carnivals and a ski marathon in the Ticino area, which borders Italy, had already been cancelled with Swiss Info reporting ice hockey matches were being played behind closed doors.
The UK’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said on Thursday night: “One of the things that’s really clear with this virus, much more so than flu, is that anything we do we’re going to have to do for quite a long period of time, probably more than two months.”
Music festivals and sports matches in the UK could face disruption, according to a report in The Times published this morning.
Public Health England told TheFestivals they have no specific advice for those attending large gatherings such as music festivals, as the general advice applies in all settings. This is to always carry tissues and use them to catch coughs and sneezes, and bin the tissue, in addition to washing hands regularly with soap and water or using hand sanitiser gel.
After Stormzy cancelled dates on the Asian leg of his world tour, a Public Health England spokesperson told the Guardian: “not feel obliged to avoid others, even in large gatherings, but should maintain good personal, hand and respiratory hygiene to avoid the spread of infections that are common at this time of year, such as flu. At the moment, we are not advising changing plans around sporting events. However, this is an evolving situation and we regularly review our advice.”
Featured: Aranxa Esteve
Virus: National Institute of Allergy or Infectious Diseases (US)
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