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Swiss hospitals to face wave of new Covid patients

Empty chairs in classrooms could become a common occurrence over the next few weeks. Keystone/Michael Buholzer

The surge in new Covid-19 cases is most likely to lead to additional strain for Swiss hospitals and schools according to health experts.

This content was published on January 4, 2022 - 17:39
swissinfo.ch/urs

The steep rise in infections with the Omicron variant over the past ten days is not yet visible in the latest statistics, but experts have little doubt that the high number of infections will have an impact.

“The number of cases is very high in the wake of the Christmas holidays,” said Rudolf Hauri, a senior cantonal official at a news conference on Tuesday. “But the trend in hospitals isn’t quite so clear and obvious yet.”

However, Hauri said the growing number of people who have to stay away from work as a result of an infection is beginning to cause staff shortages.

He added that vaccinated people are increasingly often infected with the Omicron variant.

Children and schools

Concerns have also been raised about the situation of children as classes in many regions of the country resumed after the festive season.

Alain di Gallo of the government’s advisory Covid task force said children were inevitably be affected also because only a small percentage has been vaccinated.

He reiterated the need to follow the hygiene rules, the use of masks and tests.

Di Gallo stressed that the goal must be to keep the schools open, unlike the first wave of Covid in 2020.

The head of the cantonal education directors, Silvia Steiner, did not exclude the temporary closure of schools in individual cases.

She told SRF public television that schools in Zurich were also considering hiring students and retired teachers to help out.

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