Quarantine ordered for 2,500 students at elite Swiss school

GENEVA (AP) — Swiss health authorities have ordered a quarantine for 2,500 students at a prestigious hospitality management school in the city of Lausanne after “significant outbreaks” of COVID-19 that are a suspected by-product of off-campus partying.

Authorities in Switzerland’s Vaud canton, or region, said all undergraduates at the Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne, known as the Lausanne Hospitality Management University in English, have been ordered to quarantine both on and off-campus because the number of outbreaks “made a more targetted closure impossible”.

The World Health Organization (WHO), national health authorities and others have cautioned that young people, who tend to have milder COVID-19 symptoms than older demographic groups, have been a key driver for the continued spread of the coronavirus in recent weeks, particularly in Europe.

“The earliest elements of an investigation indicate that the organisation of one or more parties was at the origin of these many outbreaks of infection,” the Vaud regional office said in a statement, adding that the parties seemed to take place before new containment measures in the region were announced on September 15.

School administrators were taking “all necessary measures” to ensure that classes were continuing online, the statement said. University spokesman Sherif Mamdouh said yesterday that the situation was “not ideal” but that the university took precautions in recent months.

He said that 11 students had tested positive for the coronavirus and none required hospitalisation.

Mamdouh said the quarantine affects 2,500 undergraduates. The university has a total student body of about 3,500, including people pursuing advanced degrees.