Switzerland announced on Friday a 1 billion Swiss francs (1.08 billion US dollars) plan to provide free coronavirus testing for the entire population as part of measures to ease the country’s withdrawal from COVID-19 restrictions.
The government said that according to the proposal, everyone will receive five self-test kits per month. Once reliable tests can be conducted, all tests in pharmacies and testing centers will be free.
It said it uses collected saliva samples to improve prevention and early detection of disease outbreaks. Workers of companies that frequently conduct tests are exempt from quarantine requirements. To ensure more testing, the government recommends paying voluntary testing fees. It is estimated that the expanded test program will cost more than 1 billion Swiss francs this year.
The final decision on the proposal will take effect on March 12, and the plan will take effect on March 15.
The government said: “In order to specifically interrupt the chain of infection, it must be possible to quickly identify who is carrying the virus. Therefore, testing is an important part of pandemic control.”
Switzerland is slowly emerging from the recent lockdown, with shops, museums and libraries reopening, and sports and cultural activities for young people resumed this week. Schools and many ski lifts are open, but restaurants and cultural venues are still closed.
The government stated that if the pandemic process permits, the next phase of reopening is planned for March 22.
It will decide on the next steps to be taken on March 19. So far, during the pandemic, 9,331 people have died from COVID-19 in Switzerland and neighboring Liechtenstein, while 562,290 cases have been confirmed.