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Omicron wave expected to peak in Switzerland this month

Calls to adapt the quarantine and isolation policy are mounting ahead of a meeting by the Swiss government. Keystone/Patrick B. Kraemer

Swiss health experts say they expect the number of Covid infections to peak within the next two weeks and recommend reviewing the quarantine policy.

This content was published on January 11, 2022 - 17:03
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“We could get to the peak within one to three weeks if contacts among people stay on the same level,” said Tanja Stadler of the Covid science task force at a news conference on Tuesday.

“The cases will double every eight to ten days," she said. “As a result between ten and 30% of the population will be infected with Covid."

She added that up to 300 new patients might have to be admitted to intensive care units and many more to regular hospital care.

Absent from work

Virginie Masserey of the Federal Office of Public Health said hospitals had to prepare to deal with the extra inflow of patients.

At the peak, 10-15% of the active population could be absent from work to quarantine and isolation, she said.

Confirmed new Covid infections have soared in Switzerland over the past two weeks, reaching a seven-day average of more than 24,600 cases on Tuesday.

“This is unprecedented level,” she said, adding that the real figure of infections is likely to be considerably higher as the authorities are struggling to maintain testing and contact tracing capacities.

Quarantine and isolation

Stadler recommended a review of the quarantine rules of seven days.

“It might make sense to shorten the quarantine and isolation to five days and limit it to closest contacts,“ she said.

Marina Jamnicki, a senior medical representative of the 26 cantons, argued that reform was necessary and that many people willfully ignored the rules. But she stopped short of dropping the measures altogether.

The government, which is meeting on Wednesday to assess the situation, is facing pressure from the business community and cantonal governments to ease restrictions.

In December it shortened the length of quarantine from ten to seven days trying to avoid a shortage of staff in public service and the private sector.

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