Austria helps Switzerland to hockey quarterfinals

Switzerland clinched a spot in the ice hockey world championships quarterfinals on Monday as Germany lost to Austria in a shootout and lost a chance to advance to the play-offs.

Austria helps Switzerland to hockey quarterfinals
Swiss players looked in shock after 7-2 loss to Canada on Sunday — but now they have a second chance. Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP

Switzerland have made it to the quarter-finals alongside Group A rivals Canada, Sweden and the Czech Republic.
The USA, defending champions Russia and Finland have clinched a play-off berth from Group B, with the last place in the quarter-finals to be taken by either Belarus or Slovakia on Tuesday.
In Group A, played in Prague, Austria beat Germany 3-2 in a penalty shootout.
Austria took a lead 35 minutes into the game when Philadelphia forward Michael Raffl set up his brother Thomas, but German captain Michael Wolf made it 1-1 on 45 minutes.
Austria went ahead again 10 minutes later through Rafael Rotter, but Germany levelled the score once again through Patrick Reimer.
Austria converted two penalties in a shootout against one for Germany, with the decisive goal scored by Konstantin Komarek.
In the group's other game, Sweden beat France 4-2 after coming back from 2-1 down.
New Jersey forward Jacob Josefson handed Sweden a 1-0 lead on 11 minutes, but two goals by Damien Fleury within the first three minutes of the second period put France ahead.
Sweden came level on 35 minutes thanks to Nashville forward Filip Forsberg who added another goal early into the final period for a lead in the
tournament's scorers' rankings with eight goals.
Arizona defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson then rounded off the score after 44 minutes.
In Group B, played in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava, Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne made history after conceding a goal following 238 minutes of keeping a clean sheet.
Rinne's record spell at the worlds ended 46 minutes into Monday's game as Evgeni Kovyrshin scored for Belarus.
Joonas Donskoi levelled the score on 52 minutes and Teemu Hartikainen put Finland ahead a minute later, but Alexei Kalyuzhny made it 2-2 half a minute from the end as Belarus had pulled their goalie.
Finland converted all three penalties in the shootout, against one for Belarus, with the game winner scored by Donskoi.
In Group B's other game, Slovenia, already relegated from the worlds, recorded their first victory after edging Denmark 1-0 with a tenth-minute goal by Ziga Pance.

UPDATE: Switzerland's hopes advancing beyond the quarterfinals were crushed on Thursday, May 14th when they were eliminated from competition following a 1-3 loss to the US in a knock-out game at the Ostrava arena.

The Swiss notched the first goal in the 14th minute of play and were able to maintain a 1-0 lead until the 31st minute when the Americans equalized.

 Less than a minute later the US took the lead before scoring an insurance goal in the third period.

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Three scenarios: How Switzerland plans to fight a Covid resurgence

Swiss government has devised three contingency plans that could be implemented to fight a new outbreak. What are they?

Three scenarios: How Switzerland plans to fight a Covid resurgence
Authorities want to prevent overcrowded hospitals if new wave comes. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

Although Switzerland relaxed a number of coronavirus rules from June 26th and 28th, “the pandemic is not over”, as Health Minister Alain Berset said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Berset said Switzerland should not become complacent, with last summer a warning against feeling that the battle is won. 

He added, however, that the new wave is unlikely to be as large as the previous ones due to the country’s vaccination campaign.

This situation leaves a degree of uncertainty for which the government wants to be prepared as well as possible, Berset noted.

The Federal Council established a “just-in-case” procedure on Wednesday for three possible scenarios that could take place in the autumn and winter. 

These plans focus mainly on the rapid detection of variants and the continuation of vaccination, testing, and tracing.

The best-case scenario: status quo

In this scenario, the number of cases remains at a low level, though small outbreaks are still possible.

The number of infections may increase slightly due to seasonal factors — the virus is known to spread slower in summer and faster in autumn and winter—  but does not place a significant burden on the health system.

If this happens, no measures beyond those already in place would be necessary.

READ MORE: ANALYSIS: Is Switzerland lifting its Covid-19 restrictions too quickly?

Not so good: more contaminations

In this second scenario, there is an increase in the number of cases in autumn or winter.

There may be several reasons for this, for example the large proportion of unvaccinated people, seasonal effects — people tend to stay indoors together in cold weather, and contaminations are easier — or the appearance of new, more infectious variants.

This situation could overburden the health system and require the reintroduction of certain measures, such as the obligation to wear a mask outdoors.

Booster vaccinations may also be necessary.

The worst: new virus mutations

In scenario three, one or more new variants appear, against which the vaccine or the post-recovery immunity are less effective or no longer effective.

A new wave of pandemic emerges, requiring strong intervention by the public authorities and a new vaccination.

Which of the three scenarios is most likely to happen?

The government hasn’t said, but judging by the comments of health officials, the latter two are the strongest contenders.

Firstly, because the highly contagious Delta mutation, which is spreading quickly through many countries, is expected to be dominant in Switzerland within a few weeks.

It is expected that the virus will spread mostly to those who are not vaccinated and, to a lesser degree, to people who have only had one shot of the vaccine, according to Andreas Cerny, epidemiologist at the University of Bern

READ MORE: How Switzerland plans to contain the Delta variant

Another concern is related to the appearance of the new variants which could be as or possibly even more contagious than Delta and not as responsive to the current vaccines.

The government said the best chance of avoiding the second or third scenarios is to ensure people are vaccinated. 

“Widespread vaccination of the population is crucial to relieve the burden on the healthcare system and to manage the epidemic. A possible increase in the number of coronavirus cases in the autumn will largely depend on the proportion of the population that has been vaccinated,” the government wrote in a press statement.

The government has also indicating it is preparing for booster vaccinations to take place in 2022 and are encouraging cantons to keep their vaccine infrastructures in place.