EXPLAINED: How coronavirus is expected to evolve in Switzerland

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 2 Mar, 2020 Updated Mon 2 Mar 2020 13:52 CEST
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With 24 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and more than 100 people in quarantine to date, things might become worse before they get better, Swiss health experts say.

Switzerland's Health Minister Alain Berset said last week that coronavirus is expected to infect more people in Switzerland. "There will be more cases, it is clear", he noted.

The number of cases rose from one to 24 in a matter of days. Why?

Richard Neher, associate professor at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel and an expert in the evolution and spread of viruses, told 20 Minuten that “the virus spreads like a pyramid scheme. On average, a sick person infects two to three other people. That's why viruses spread so quickly in an epidemic”.

If someone falls ill and has no contact with other people, then they cannot infect anyone. “But if a sick person goes to a concert or another place where many gather in a confined space, he can infect dozens of other people” Neher explained.

How is Covid-19 expected to evolve in Switzerland?

Considering how contagious the virus is, Neher predicts that Switzerland will see a rapid increase in the number of cases in the near future. "It is no longer possible to prevent the virus from spreading”, he said. “We can only slow it down”.

What concrete steps should be taken to prevent the further spread of Covid-19 to more people and regions in Switzerland?

Besides the guidelines issued by the Federal Office of Public Health which highlight preventive measures such as frequent handwashing and staying home in case of sickness, as well as the so-called “social distancing measures”, Neher says that “it no longer makes sense” to trace the infection chain to individual contacts. By doing that, “we will simply run out of staff”, he points out.

Although the authorities are already concentrating on slowing the spread of the virus, the next steps are obvious, Neher notes: “The more people with illnesses have contact with other people, the greater the risk that they will infect someone. So we must adopt further measures – for example, telling people to work from home and avoid the use of public transport”.

Is there any good news on the horizon for Switzerland?

In the best case-scenario, the spread of coronavirus should be slowing down soon, and the number of new infections decrease by the summer, Neher predicts. Also, “efficient vaccination will be available to everyone by autumn. This could get the epidemic under control relatively quickly”, he added.

Are people in Switzerland panicking because of the quick spread of coronavirus?

Surprisingly, not too much.

Although some grocery chains report shortage of certain non-perishable foods as consumers are stocking up on emergency supplies, only one in 10 Swiss fears catching the virus, according to a survey conducted by the Link Institute and published by SonntagsBlick on Sunday. 

Two-thirds of those questioned feel little or no personal threat, 25 percent consider that the danger is medium, and only 8 percent consider it high.

A quarter of those surveyed believe that the virus represents a major threat to the country. This figure reaches 40 percent for the world.

READ MORE: VIDEO - Five key questions about the coronavirus answered






The Local 2020/03/02 13:52

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