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COVID-19 Testing: What to Expect in Geneva?

by Phasawit Jutatungcharoen

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please follow the instructions given by the Canton of Geneva and the Swiss Federal authorities, including but not limited to self-quarantining in an isolated room for at least 10 days. For more detailed instructions and further information, please visit the Swiss federal and cantonal governments that have FAQs section on their websites. Moreover, for students, please contact coronavirus_19@graduateinstitute.ch, where you will get further instructions on whether to remain in self-quarantine or get in touch with a doctor or the hospital.

Testing for the virus should be a rarity for IHEID students, given the current scarcity of test kits which are current reserved for the elderly and vulnerable. However, in the event where your doctor determines that your symptoms are severe enough to go (or in my case a massive miscommunication), then the following will be what you expect.

First, find a hospital with a testing center. HUG is one of the more popular hospitals in Geneva, and indeed they have a facility for testing in a tent outside of their hospital. 

At the tent, a sign will separate people with fever and those with other symptoms. I wasn’t feverish in my case, so I took the other path. Here, you are faced with mandatory hand sanitizers and a staff member asking you questions about when you felt the symptoms. After that, they let you in.

Before you do the test, a questionnaire will be handed to you. This allows the medical staff to determine the severity of your situation, as well as your travel history. Otherwise, you will likely be sent home for mild symptoms, as the test kits are reserved for others. You may take a look at the sheets to determine if you should save a trip.

Regardless of what you wrote, you will be invited into a waiting area with a number slip. While everyone will be in the same area, the seats are separated from each other to conform to social distancing standards. Once you get your turn (or in my case until a nurse who speaks English is available) you will be directed to a seat. While I did not get tested in the end (spoiler alert), I did observe certain things going on. A nurse would ask questions for a while, then the patients wait in the chair doing the test. After a while, they are free to leave.

A medical staff of HUG is asking a potential patient a series of questions to determine their travel and medical history.

Even if you don’t get tested and sent home, the hospital will contact you in two days. Be honest and open with your report and ask any questions you may have with the doctor, as you will have very few chances.

As of this article, test kits are still rationed in Switzerland to the worst off. While testing is common and possibly mandatory in Asia, supply issues prevent European countries from doing such policies. Given recent news of increased production of testing kits, however, this procedure may not be such a mystery in the near future.

Photos taken by the author.

Erratum: The article has been updated as of 30 March 2020, 12:25 PM to reflect changes in the uploaded featured image of the medical staff and the patients. The previous version of the image showed their faces, which we recognise has ethical implications. We apologise for the oversight.

2 comments on “COVID-19 Testing: What to Expect in Geneva?

  1. Pingback: COVID-19 Updates and Resources – The Graduate Press

  2. Pingback: COVID-19: A Socio-Psychological Story – The Graduate Press

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