Information about coronaviruses

We have known about coronaviruses since the 1960s. They are a large family of viruses, seven types of which can cause illness in people. Four known types of coronavirus cause minor, recurrent colds, and three others can lead to serious illness. They are called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS coronavirus), Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the new coronavirus, 2019-nCoV (COVID-19), which was discovered in 2019.

The new coronavirus has spread from China throughout the entire world since the start of 2020. Steps taken in Switzerland (lockdown, social distancing and hygiene measures) have enabled us to achieve a decrease in the number of new infections. However, we should all continue to closely follow hygiene rules and codes of conduct, and avoid unnecessary contact.

It is still very important to identify as many people as possible who are infected with COVID-19, isolate them and quarantine people they have been in contact with. This is the only way to break chains of infection.

Coronavirus is different from normal flu: Both Sars-CoV-2 and seasonal flu viruses cause respiratory diseases and are transmitted from person to person through close contact and droplets. However, flu has a shorter incubation period and coronavirus has a higher infection rate. There are also differences in the at-risk groups: Coronavirus poses a particularly high risk to older people and people with pre-existing conditions. By comparison, current figures show that the probability of children aged under 12 with cold-like symptoms having Covid-19 is low. Both Sars-CoV-2 and flu viruses can sometimes cause very similar symptoms. In contrast to flu, many COVID-19 patients complain of a loss of sense of taste or smell. A coronavirus vaccine is currently unavailable, so it is important to get vaccinated against flu.

Information page of the Federal Office of Public Health



According to the latest findings, individuals can become infected in the same way as with the flu, i.e. contact with the droplets that are released when an infected person coughs or sneezes, and direct contact with contaminated surfaces. Coronaviruses can be passed from person to person if people are in close contact with each other over a longer period (with less than 2 metres’ distance over an accumulated period of more than 15 minutes).



The symptoms are similar to a normal cold with or without fever, headache, sore throat, blocked nose, cough, breathing difficulties such as shortness of breath, muscle aches; conjunctivitis and gastro-intestinal symptoms are also possible.

Many sufferers also temporarily lose their sense of taste and smell. However, infections can also be asymptomatic, but the infected person might still be able to pass on the virus.

The illness is often mild in younger and healthy people, and it can be assumed that they will recover quickly. Older people and/or people with pre-existing risk factors can become more seriously ill. Severe pneumonia can occur, and life-threatening complications can develop in some cases.


Long Covid

As well as serious acute illness, Covid 19 infection can also cause a variety of long-lasting, chronic complaints, such as constant tiredness, lack of energy and shortness of breath or even depression and anxiety. These symptoms are grouped together under the term “long Covid” and can occur regardless of age or severity of the original illness. According to the first results of the Zurich Coronavirus Cohort Study published in February 2021 as part of the Corona Immunitas project, 26% of patients who became infected during the first wave between February and August 2020 still did not feel that they had fully recovered 6 months later. Although this proportion was higher (39%) among patients who had been hospitalised, a considerable percentage of non-hospitalised patients with a mild illness (23%) also said that they had not returned to their original state of health.

We still know very little about the causes, risk factors, treatment options and long-term progression of long Covid. A surgery for Covid aftercare has been set up at the University Hospital Basel to offer a point of contact and care for patients whose health is still affected after the infection. Those affected can register at +41 61 265 51 80 or



Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms. At this point there is no specific treatment for the virus.



Highly effective vaccines against the Covid-19 virus have been developed.

We have been able to vaccinate residents of the Canton of Basel-Stadt since 28 December 2020.

Due to the limited availability of the vaccine, the following target groups are prioritized:

  1. People aged 75 and over should be given priority access to the vaccine and
  2. adults with chronic illnesses (aka “pre-existing conditions”) with the highest risk should be vaccinated regardless of age (consultation/confirmation by the attending doctor).
  3. This is followed by people aged from 65-74 years and
  4. adults aged under 65 with chronic illnesses who have not yet been vaccinated.

People can register for the vaccination on the website or book an appointment by calling the infoline 0800 555 655. It is not possible to spontaneously get a vaccine without an appointment. Vaccinations can only be given in the vaccination centre in Messe Basel.

People who wish to receive the vaccine must fill in a consent form in advance

On the vaccination day, please bring your health insurance card and your identity card/passport to the appointment. Vaccination isn’t possible without these documents. It also makes sense to take along your vaccination certificate (if you have one). Additional details about booking appointments and about the vaccination process are available from the website or the infoline.

Information about the approved Pfizer/Biontech vaccine can be found on the FOPH website as well as on the website of the Basel coronavirus vaccination centre. You will find answers there to questions about safety, the approval process, side effects and contraindications. People who wish to receive the vaccine can also contact their family doctor with any questions. Plus it is also possible to talk to a doctor at the vaccination centre.

Two vaccination doses at least 21 days apart are required


Notification criteria (for doctors and laboratories)

Notifications are made according to the current notification criteria ( to the Cantonal Medical Office (via and to the FOPH (via Fax 058 463 87 77 or email:

Notification Form FOPH (in German)