Coronavirus: information and recommendations


Updated on 25 February 2020


CERN continues to monitor the evolution of the situation concerning the novel coronavirus COVID-19 in consultation with the relevant Host States authorities (the Federal Office of Public Health in Switzerland, the Ministry of Health in France), the World Health Organization (WHO), and other intergovernmental organisations in Geneva with globally-mobile communities.

Full and regularly updated information from the WHO can be found here. Information from the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health is available here, and from the French Ministry of Health here.

Following confirmed cases of the virus in Italy, the Italian Authorities have put several towns in Lombardy and Veneto under quarantine. The Italian government’s information on the situation in Italy is here.

Advice for all personnel:

Everybody can contribute to keeping the spread of the virus under control by adopting the following measures, which are also effective against other seasonal viral infections such as the flu:

  • If you feel unwell, do not come to work;
  • People with particular health vulnerabilities may check the possibility of teleworking with their supervisors;
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser;
  • Respect the recommended hygiene measures;
  • Avoid close physical contact with people, especially those who are coughing or have difficulties breathing.


For travellers:

Travel to areas that are put under quarantine or declared as a red zone by the national authorities is not possible. CERN official travel to other areas in countries with declared red zones should be cleared by the Department Head.

CERN’s recommendations for people returning to the CERN site from countries with declared red zones are as follows. For 14 days after your return, in addition to the measures listed above under Advice for all personnel:

  • Survey the status of your health, in particular with respect to breathing problems (see below for Who to contact);
  • Check with your supervisor about the possibility of teleworking;
  • Join meetings via videoconference if possible;
  • Avoid the CERN restaurants at peak hours.

These measures build on the recommendations from the Host States authorities, and will help the Organization to limit risk.



Please note that there are currently no recommendations to restrict meetings in our region: this applies to international organizations such CERN with an international population and frequent travel. We have not been asked by the Host States to implement any specific measures in this respect.


Who to contact:

At CERN, if you are in any doubt, call the CERN emergency number: + 41 22 767 4444.

In Switzerland, the COVID-19 information line is +41 58 463 00 00 (8:00-18:00). If you present any of the symptoms associated with COVID-19, do not go directly to the hospital or your general practitioner, but call 144 for advice.

In France, the COVID-19 information line is +33 800 130 000 (9:00-19:00).  If you present any of the symptoms associated with COVID-19, do not go directly to the hospital or your general practitioner, but call 15 for advice.

CERN remains in close contact with Host State authorities, the WHO as well as other international organisations, and will adapt if necessary as the situation evolves. This page will be updated as necessary.



Update on 10th February 2020

The Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) has introduced the following Coronavirus information lines:
For the public: +41 58 463 00 00
For travellers: +41 58 464 44 88
These are open daily from 8:00 to 18:00.

Latest information from the FOPH, updated on 10 February 2020 can be found here.

Key points for Switzerland are as follows:
So far none of the samples taken in Switzerland has tested positive for the novel coronavirus. It is, however, possible that cases may occur in Switzerland. The FOPH and its  partners are preparing for the possibility that the novel coronavirus will appear in Switzerland.

On the basis of the current assessment of the situation it is not necessary to restrict entry to Switzerland.

Nose or throat swabs are being tested in diagnostic labs in all suspected cases. If the lab confirms an infection with the coronavirus, people who have been in contact with the person contracting the disease will be informed about their risk by the health authorities.

Recommendations for travellers:
So far the WHO has not issued any travel restrictions. The FOPH advises against travel to the Chinese province of Hubei.

Wuhan and other cities have been extensively sealed off. Road, rail and air travel have been stopped. People must wear masks in public spaces. Travel to and from these regions is only allowed with a special permit, if at all. It is unclear how long these restrictions and arrangements will apply.

Airports in Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Taiwan and other Asian countries or regions have introduced systematic screening measures to monitor passengers from China. Travellers can also expect to face increased monitoring at other international airports (in Europe, North America and Australia).

If you are travelling to other parts of China

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or use hand sanitiser.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue, or if you have no tissue use the crook of your arm.
  • Avoid contact with people who are coughing or have difficulties breathing.
  • Avoid large gatherings of people, such as sporting events and public transport.
  • Follow local instructions and recommendations.

If you have recently spent time in China
For 14 days after your departure from China:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or use hand sanitiser.
  • Avoid large gatherings of people, such as sporting events and public transport.

If you have difficulties breathing, a cough or fever, stay at home or in your hotel. Do not go out in public. Immediately contact – first by phone – a doctor or health centre. Mention that you have recently been in China and have symptoms. You will find more information in the FAQ on the FOPH webpage.

If you do not have any symptoms it does not make sense to have a test, as there is no test that can rule out an infection with certainty if you have no symptoms.

CERN’s recommendations remain unchanged..


Update on 6 February 2020

The Canton of Geneva has released an update (in French) of the current status of the coronavirus outbreak, and provided more links to relevant information.

The new information from the Canton can be found here:

Etat des lieux de la situation au 4 février 2020

Key points are that in Switzerland no quarantine measures are being taken for asymptomatic people arriving from China: transmission requires close proximity with an infected person displaying symptoms.

No samples analysed in Switzerland so far have shown infection by the virus.

No diagnostic samples will be taken from patients displaying respiratory symptoms who have not come from China within the last 14 days, or have no contact with a confirmed carrier of the virus. 

CERN’s recommendations remain unchanged.

More links:

Information from the Swiss Federal office for public health can be found here:

Guidance from the World Health Organization can be found here:


Update on 31 January 2020

On 30 January, the World Health Organization has declared the corona virus as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). CERN's recommendations remain the same.




As announced by the World Health Organization, WHO, a novel coronavirus, was identified in China at the beginning of January 2020. This new virus was temporarily named “2019-nCoV.” Since the beginning of January, several countries around the world have declared cases of infection with “2019-nCoV”.

Common signs of infection with a coronavirus include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

WHO has issued advice to people on how to protect themselves and those around them from getting the disease.  CERN’s Management invites you to read and follow this advice, which will be updated as the situation and understanding of the virus evolves.

Action in case of suspected infection
If you could have been infected by the “2019-nCoV”, but do not present any acute symptoms, please contact the Geneva University Hospital (HUG) on +41 22 372 81 20.

If you present any of the symptoms associated with the “2019-nCoV”, please call the HUG and inform them of any recent travel and your state of health before going to the hospital in person. In France, the advice is to call 15 and not to go directly to the hospital or your general practitioner.

Travel precautions
CERN will not send any members of the personnel to Hubei, where the virus first broke out, until further notice. Travel to other regions in China should be discussed with and cleared by the Department Head concerned.

For further, more general information regarding travel risks, please consult the links below:


Any updates will be published on this page.