AO approach to COVID-19

Update from the AO on its position

AO Center Davos


The health risk posed by COVID-19 continues to be a global concern: the AO is monitoring the situation closely. We are committed to taking all necessary precautions to minimize avoidable risks to our staff and international community, while ensuring our global activities continue as normal wherever possible.

AO resources for surgeons

On this page you can find the latest information on the activities the AO has launched in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is a work in progress and is updated regularly.

AO measures in place

Following the categorization of COVID-19 as a pandemic, reducing or restricting travel is no longer an effective risk reduction measure. The priority now is to identify exposure to all confirmed cases, to isolate, and where necessary, treat those affected. The goal: to slow the spread of the virus. Measures taken by countries following this announcement may impact your ability to travel: if you have flights booked, please check with the relevant authorities.

The AO has a duty of care towards all employees, and takes this seriously. Here, the AO empowers its staff to be fully open and honest about real or perceived risk, and any decisions about travel will be based on mutual consent.

The AO asks that everyone involved with the AO is fully transparent about the nature of their exposure to confirmed cases of COVID-19. If you are involved in AO events that are going ahead as planned, but feel worried about traveling, please raise your concerns directly with your AO contact.

WHO guidance

Useful, up-to-date information can be found on the WHO website, including: frequently asked questions, the latest briefing by the WHO Director-General (April 15), the latest overview of the situation globally (April 15), and helpful guidance on measures you can take to reduce risk of infection and transmission. The WHO also publish information on the current status of research into COVID-19.

Find out more about how to sign up to WHO updates on COVID-19 here.

Switzerland's response: Stay home

The Swiss Federal Government on Friday March 13 announced measures that would be applied to mitigate the impact of the virus. Full information, updated April 16, including plans to gradually ease measures in place, can be found on the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health website.

Of particular importance: everyone who is part of the 'high risk' groups identified on the website require special protection. More information here.

On March 20, the Swiss federal authorities gave more detail on how its protective measures to slow the spread of the virus should be implemented, reinforcing the message "now is the time to stay home" and including:

  • limiting time outside to absolute necessities (such as buying groceries, going to work, visiting the doctor, or helping someone),
  • banning the gathering of groups of more than five people in public places (with violation punishable by a fine),  
  • clarifying that groups of under five people must maintain a two meter distance between each other (or risk incurring a fine).
  • specifying that the regulations on group size and distance apply within communal areas at work (canteen/coffee areas) and public places equally, and
  • empowering civil defense support for cantonal virus response and risk reduction measures.

If you need to track the situation in Switzerland, you can use AlertSwiss.