The Swiss government has banned large events of more than 1,000 people as a measure to help combat the spread of the coronavirus, a move expected to force the cancellation of the Geneva international motor show.

The annual show is one of the world’s largest automotive events and last year attracted as many as 600,000 executives and car fans to the city. It was due to take place from 2-15 March.

“In view of the current situation and the spread of the coronavirus, the Federal Council has categorised the situation in Switzerland as ‘special’ in terms of the Epidemics Act,” the cabinet said in a statement on Friday.

The World Health Organization is recommending that people take simple precautions to reduce exposure to and transmission of the Wuhan coronavirus, for which there is no specific cure or vaccine.

The UN agency advises people to:

  • Frequently wash their hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or warm water and soap
  • Cover their mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue when sneezing or coughing
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever or cough
  • Seek early medical help if they have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, and share their travel history with healthcare providers
  • Avoid direct, unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals when visiting live markets in affected areas
  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked animal products and exercise care when handling raw meat, milk or animal organs to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods.

Despite a surge in sales of face masks in the aftermath of the outbreak of the coronavirus outbreak, experts are divided over whether they can prevent transmission and infection. There is some evidence to suggest that masks can help prevent hand-to-mouth transmissions, given the large number of times people touch their faces. The consensus appears to be that wearing a mask can limit – but not eliminate – the risks, provided they are used correctly.

Justin McCurry

“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.”

The ban on large events comes as Europe struggles to contain the epidemic.

Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health has reported 15 cases of the virus, including in the Geneva, Zurich and Basel-City cantons.

Many carmakers had already asked employees from infected areas to avoid travelling to the show.

However, the motor show organisers had sent participants an email as recently as Wednesday, saying that the event would go ahead as planned, despite Switzerland reporting its first case of Covid-19.

On Friday, before the ban was announced, the motor show’s statement said it was “carefully observing the situation” but made no reference to possible cancellation. It also pointed to World Health Organization advice to practice “follow good respiratory hygiene”.


Source link Google News