Swiss want to clarify something you’ve been struggling with

The Swiss want to clear up the confusion and bad press over a recent announcement that forcing foreigners with common colds to be treated as patients in advance of visiting the country is going to become mandatory.

One person who’s not happy is “Travel Gurus” blogger Larry Hoy, who writes about all things travel-related, including health, well-being and recommendations for getting to interesting places.

Hoy told Foreign Policy that a Swiss official told him that people with mild symptoms of the common cold, even those who go to the hospital, would be given a waiver for the mandatory quarantine if they can prove that they are not contagious.

After this story came out, it created a buzz about the policy in the public eye. Suddenly, things were not as simple as they first appeared and policymakers are now going back on the original statement they’d made.

After reading the post about the new policy, which prompted this exchange from Moy himself:

What appears to have happened is that when Swiss Senator Philippe Leclerc gave his testimony to the media on October 21st, he did so from his office at the Swiss Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Despite his confirmation that this policy would be changing, in the official publication of his Senate statement later that day, he does not spell out that change in clear terms. In fact, the language is ambiguous. I mean in either case, it is only the person who has a cold, or the person with a cough that is supposed to be quarantined.

Here’s what the original statement said:

The laboratory tests and physical examination, irrespective of their measures, are mandatory for the entry of persons wishing to be admitted to the country. On the other hand, it is possible for a person who, for whatever reason, is unable to undergo the tests, or without any reasons in mind, to avoid a readmission ban, even when they show all signs of being contagious. The policy applies only to people arriving in Switzerland with the intention of infecting Swiss society with communicable diseases.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, speaking on the condition of anonymity, added to that:

The policy would apply to people arriving in Switzerland with the intention of infecting Swiss society with communicable diseases. An essential element is that the infected individual respects all preventive measures taken to prevent or reduce the outbreak of disease, especially if necessary, by avoiding contact with others. It is therefore impossible that a person with an acute respiratory illness be exempted from the automatic readmission of the immune system from the quarantinant. It is also possible for a person who can show that they do not intend to infect others to avoid a readmission ban.

Obviously, these are still not great arguments that I’m sure Swiss voters will have to form if this changes again in the future.

Here’s the email sent out from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and it should definitely tell you what’s new:

The policy would apply to people arriving in Switzerland with the intention of infecting Swiss society with communicable diseases. An essential element is that the infected individual respects all preventive measures taken to prevent or reduce the outbreak of disease, especially if necessary, by avoiding contact with others. It is therefore impossible that a person with an acute respiratory illness be exempted from the automatic readmission of the immune system from the quarantinant. It is also possible for a person who can show that they do not intend to infect others to avoid a readmission ban.

I guess that’s enough.

Howard Kurtz is a Fox News analyst and the host of “MediaBuzz” (Sundays 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET). He is the author of five books and is based in Washington. Follow him at @HowardKurtz. Click here for more information on Howard Kurtz.

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