Last updated on 02.06.2021

How does repeat testing work?

Various certified tests available

There are various COVID-19 tests available in Switzerland that have been certified by independent bodies and the FOPH. You should therefore use the test being offered in your business, school or club if it is being implemented via the canton.

How a PCR test works

A PCR test detects whether you have been infected with coronavirus. The test is performed by your doctor, or in hospitals or test centres using a nose and throat swab, a throat swab or a saliva sample. According to the latest research, all these tests are equally reliable.
The sample is analysed in a licensed laboratory and the result is generally available within 24 to 48 hours.

How a pooled test works for organisations

Thanks to established logistics and processes in the cantons, businesses, schools and other organisations can carry out repeat pooled tests for groups of five people or more. The samples are pooled, which allows larger groups of people to be tested rapidly.

Important for businesses, schools and institutions:

  • The federal government and cantons cover all equipment and logistic costs.
  • The laboratory provides instructions on sample collection.
  • The organisation only needs to organise sample collection and labelling. Both can be done without any prior knowledge or special skills. The following video shows how PCR tests are pooled.

Repeat testing uses saliva PCR tests where the person being tested submits a saliva sample by spitting into a tube. The test is not performed by professionals. You can find more details of how to perform this test on the packaging.

Find out on your canton’s website how you can register your business for repeat testing and how it is implemented.

How a rapid antigen test works

Rapid antigen tests yield a result on a potential coronavirus infection within 15 to 20 minutes. Unlike PCR tests, rapid antigen tests are performed via a nose and throat swab. The result is less reliable than a PCR test, which is why positive results must be confirmed with a PCR test.

How a self-test works

For testing immediately before taking part in activities in social settings, there is a specific type of test available in Switzerland: the nasal self-test.

This involves taking a sample from inside both nostrils by inserting a swab inside the nostril (approx. 2cm parallel to the palate). Detailed instructions on how to take the sample and perform the test correctly can be found on the packaging.

Make sure you get your self-tests from a pharmacy. You can get five free tests a month per person on presentation of your health insurance card.

In any case: a positive test result must be confirmed with an individual PCR test

Regardless of whether you get a positive result from repeat testing in your workplace, from a rapid antigen test or from a home self-test, it must be confirmed with an individual PCR test at a test centre, pharmacy, hospital or doctor’s surgery.