Swiss health experts sound alarm over Covid surge

Stadler said up to 90,000 anti-Covid booster vaccinations daily are needed by the end of the year to protect the population. Keystone/Peter Schneider

Health experts have urged the population to respect hygiene rules and to get vaccinated to avoid an overloading of Swiss hospitals due to a continuing rise in new Covid infections.

This content was published on November 23, 2021 - 16:56

Patrick Mathys of the Federal Office of Public HealthExternal link said the current epidemic situation in Switzerland was “critical” and that a further increase in the number of new Covid cases was to be expected over the next weeks.

He said infections surged notably among the age group of the 10-19-olds, while most Covid patients admitted to hospitals were 80 or over.

The seven-day average of new cases reached 5,587 cases on Tuesday, as a new wave of infections has hit the country since mid-October.

About 65% of the population in Switzerland is fully vaccinated and just over 200,000 people, particularly from the age group of 65+, have received a booster vaccination so far.

Mathys confirmed that the government’s advisory commission on vaccinations and the health office would issue their recommendations for booster shots for people over the age of 16 next week.

He called for renewed awareness of the existing hygiene rules, notably the wearing of masks, keeping one’s distance and reducing contacts.

Similar to Austria

Tanja Stadler, the president of the government’s Covid science task force, said she expected hospitalisations in Switzerland to increase in the next few weeks and that Switzerland’s situation was similar to that of Austria three weeks ago.

“An immediate slowing down of infections is needed in Switzerland from an epidemiological point of view,” she added.

Stadler said anti-Covid vaccinations, including booster jabs for the elderly population, could help halve the number of hospital admissions.

The warning comes days before voters are due to decide on the legal basis of Covid certificates which limit access to many indoor spaces in Switzerland to people who have been jabbed, recovered from the infection, or have tested negative for Covid-19.

Last week, Interior Minister Alain Berset ruled out a tightening of anti-Covid measures for the time being, but he called on hospitals to prepare for an increase in patients over the next few weeks.

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