Explained: When will Switzerland reach the peak of the coronavirus epidemic?
As of this Monday March 23rd, there were at least 8,060 confirmed cases of Covid-19, and 66 deaths in Switzerland. But how is this epidemic expected to evolve?
What do health experts predict?
“The numbers will continue to climb in the coming days”, said Daniel Koch, head of the communicable diseases division at the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).
However, “the curve could flatten out” next week, as long as everyone sticks to the measures set out by the Federal Council last week, he added.
The measures include the ban on all public and private events that gather more than five people.
All shops, markets, restaurants, bars, entertainment and leisure establishments such as museums, libraries, cinemas, concert halls, theatres, sports centres, swimming pools and ski areas are closed.
Schools are also closed until at least April 4th and most border crossings have been shuttered.
Everyone is urged to stay indoors, practice ‘social distancing’ and follow FOPH’s hygiene recommendations such as frequent hand washing and coughing into the crook of the elbow.
Why is it taking so long for Covid-19 cases to decline?
Didier Pittet, head of the infection prevention service at the Geneva University Hospital (HUG) told RTS television that the number of infections continues to climb because confinement measures were not ordered by the Federal Council early enough.
The people who are tested positive right now caught Covid-19 before the measures were taken, he added.
He also said that “we won’t see positive results before at least two or three weeks” after the preventive measures were implemented on March 16th.
This means improvement will likely not occur before March 30th at the earliest, and it may taken longer for the number of deaths to stabilise.
How can the experts know this?
These predictions are based on what happened in China, where the coronavirus originated.
The first quarantine measures were introduced in Wuhan on January 20th, before the city completely closed on January 23th, with 15 others shuttered the following day.
Official surveys show that the number of people showing symptoms began to decrease six days after the first measures were implemented, and that it took several more days for this decline to be reflected in the official statistics.
Mortality rates in China started to drop by mid-February.