First World country Switzerland has confirmed its first Covid-19 case, the Federal Office of Public Health said on Tuesday, Feb. 25.
The health department declined to say where the first case had been detected, but only revealed that further details will be provided at 5pm CET.
Swiss television RTS said authorities in Ticino, on the border to Italy, had confirmed the case occurred in their region.
Switzerland shares a 744km border with Italy.
The new virus has already killed more than 2,600 people, most of them in China, and spread to about 30 other countries.
The number of confirmed cases has risen to 80,147.
Italy, with some 260 infections, is Europe’s biggest outbreak country.
The southern Swiss canton of Ticino has put in place extensive new measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, The Local reported.
The Italian-speaking canton, which borders the Italian region of Lombardy, considered the “epicentre” of the country’s coronavirus outbreak, has stepped up its measures to halt the spread of the virus.
Seven people in Italy have died as a result of the virus.
Hundreds have been infected, almost all of which are in the two northern Italian regions of Lombardy and Veneto.
However, calls to close the border with Italy have been dismissed as ineffective.
A Swiss Federal Office of Public Health spokesperson told local media that they were concerned about the outbreak in neighbouring Italy, saying the spread of the virus “must now be brought under control by all means”.
The Swiss Health Minister said on Tuesday that the situation in Italy was being monitored and the planned steps have been in development for several weeks.
The spokesperson said “we are monitoring the situation hour by hour and are well prepared to protect the population”.
More than 300 people have been examined, but there are no confirmed cases of the virus in Ticino.
An information campaign to allay fears about the virus has been launched there to let people know how they should deal with symptoms and prevent the spread.
Flyers and posters will be produced and placed at airports, train stations and other locations at borders.
While these measures will apply in Ticino, they are also set for implementation in Valais and Grisons, which also border Italy.
The populist Swiss People’s Party has called for greater restrictions on border crossings.
These calls have been rejected.
Austria has since stopped all trains running across its border with Italy.
Switzerland has declined to put in place similar restrictions saying they are ineffective.
Buses and other traffic have also not been restricted.
School trips to Italy in the canton of Vaud have, however, been postponed.