Coronavirus: Transition into the next phase

24/04/2020 (13:00)
Press release
Department of Health

On the threshold of the re-opening phase that will begin on the coming Monday, 27 April 2020, the Department of Health Basel-Stadt has provided statistical information about people who have so far suffered from Covid-19 in the Canton of Basel-Stadt, at a video press conference today. Head of the Department of Health Lukas Engelberger expressed his sympathy with those affected. Referring to the now imminent transitional phase, the Department of Health points out that neither the authorities nor the sectors concerned have any experience of dealing with this situation. Caution is therefore advised: People should continue to consistently adhere to the codes of conduct and hygiene measures to prevent a resurgence of the epidemic during the reopening phase.

Cantonal physician Thomas Steffen used the available statistical data to show the effect that Covid-19 has so far had in the Canton of Basel-Stadt. According to the data, most of the total of 931 confirmed infections (figures as of: 23 April 2020) occurred in the 51 to 60 age group, followed by the 31 to 40 age group. Although there were much fewer infections in the 61-plus age group, this group had an above-average number of deaths: All of the 45 deaths occurred in people in this age group, with most deaths occurring in people aged between 81 and 90 years. 5.4 percent of infected women and 4.2 percent of infected men died from the virus. The source of infection is unknown in 39 percent of people who had been infected with the virus. In cases where the sources were identifiable, people in Basel most commonly picked up the infection in a family environment or in institutions. The urban environment also had an effect. Thomas Steffen said: “Our figures clearly indicate that there were more infections in the city than in Riehen or Bettingen. The more rural the environment, the fewer infections.”

Over 80 percent of those infected have since recovered. Only four percent are still being treated in hospital. The highest level of hospitalisations occurred on 1 April 2020, with 119 Covid-19 patients. 17 of these patients were in intensive care at that time. The good news: Many patients were able to leave the intensive care ward again. The number of people requiring intensive care has now fallen to seven.

Head of the Department of Health Lukas Engelberger thanks the public and private hospitals: “I am grateful that we have so far not had to witness such dramatic scenes as other countries have. Our healthcare system has passed its first stress test. Our hospitals were not overwhelmed.” When all inpatient and outpatient interventions are allowed again from the coming Monday, intensive care beds will still need to be kept ready for Covid-19 patients in case there is a second wave of infections. It was not necessary to exhaust the maximum possible capacity of the “cooperative hospital concept” involving the major public and private hospitals mutually supporting each other, and it can now be scaled down. The epidemiological situation is obviously still being closely observed.

Basel-Stadt is ready for contact tracing

All infected people in the Canton of Basel-Stadt are being looked after and regularly contacted by the medical services. Daily, in the case of at-risk patients. The Department of Health is ready for expansion of isolation and quarantine support, as well as contact tracing. For this purpose, it is setting up a new IT platform together with partners that will be ready for use in the coming two weeks and that will be presented to the public in more detail in due course.

Codes of conduct and hygiene rules will still be the most important form of protection

Lukas Engelberger concluded: “We have drawn up cantonal regulations for implementing safety policies for the implementation of the forthcoming transitional phase. The easing of measures prescribed at national level will be subject to interdepartmental monitoring by the cantonal authorities. However, it is important to bear in mind that: Continuing to consistently adhere to the codes of conduct and hygiene measures is the most important form of protection. It is still too early to give the all-clear. I am calling upon everybody in Basel: Keep following the codes of conduct and hygiene measures, especially social distancing and regularly washing your hands! I would like to thank all of you for doing this.”

The cantonal recommendations for implementing the safety policies have been published on the website