Immediate ban imposed on all major events to stop Swiss coronavirus spread

The Swiss government said it was suspending all events in the country involving more than 1,000 participants until March 15 in a bid to stop new coronavirus contagion with immediate effect.

It was confirmed today that the decision means the Geneva International Motor Show – one of the biggest events in the car industry – has been cancelled as a result.  The government said it was ‘aware that this measure will have a significant impact on public life in Switzerland’ but added that ‘it should prevent or delay the spread of the disease, thus reducing its momentum’.

The federal government said that the scale of the outbreak allowed it to take special powers to order measures that are normally the responsibility of Switzerland’s cantons.

The government said in a statement: ‘Large-scale events involving more than 1,000 people are to be banned. The ban comes into immediate effect and will apply at least until 15 March.

‘In the case of public or private events at which fewer than 1,000 people would gather, event organisers must carry out a risk assessment in conjunction with the competent cantonal authorities to decide whether or not the event can be held.

‘The cantons are responsible for enforcing the ban.’

Health Minister Alain Berset said that similar measures had proved ‘effective’ in other countries.

He told reporters that the number of cases in Switzerland, where 15 cases have been confirmed, was ‘not a surprise for us’, adding: ‘We have to expect an increase in cases in the next few days’.

Two more patients in England have tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in England to 17 and the UK to 19, England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said.

He said: ‘Two further patients in England have tested positive for Covid-19.

‘The virus was passed on in Iran and the patients have been transferred to specialist NHS infection centres at the Royal Free Hospital.

‘The total number of cases in England is now 17. Following confirmed cases in Northern Ireland and Wales, the total number of UK cases is 19.’

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