Swiss health minister warns public ‘it’s illusory to think lockdown will end on April 20th’

Swiss health minister warns public 'it's illusory to think lockdown will end on April 20th'
Berset said it is too early to end the confinement. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP
With the number of Covid-19 infections and deaths increasing in Switzerland, “a quick exit from the current situation is not realistic”, health authorities say. The lockdown is due to end of April 19th.

The Federal Council declared a state of emergency on March 16th, closing all shops, restaurants, bars, and entertainment and leisure facilities — with the exception of grocery stores and pharmacies— until April 19th.

However, Health Minister Alain Berset told SonntagsZeitung on Sunday that “for the moment, it seems illusory to think we will be able to relax the measures on April 20th”. 

“It is only when the number of infected people and hospital admissions clearly decreases that we can consider relaxing the rules,” he added.

As of Monday morning April 6th more than 21,000 people in Switzerland are infected — though the real number is likely higher – and 734 have died, according to the Worldmeters data. 

Both Berset and Daniel Koch, the head of infectious diseases unit at the Federal Office of Public Health, said that the peak of the infections has not yet been reached.

“Experience has shown that if the easing comes too early, it will extend the crisis”, Berset said, referring to China, where the coronavirus originated.

The situation there improved only after more than two months, despite very harsh restrictions, Berset pointed out. And when the measures were relaxed a little, the number of cases went up again.

“Until we reach a certain level of immunity in society or have a vaccine, the virus will be with us”, he said.

READ MORE: EXPLAINER: Why does Switzerland want to test former coronavirus patients? 

Berset urged the Swiss to persevere and not venture outdoors, even though they may be tempted to do so due to warm weather. He reminded that there is a ban in place on gatherings of more than five people.

He also warned that if the public becomes less disciplined about confinement and social distancing measures that are currently in effect, “a curfew will not be ruled out for Easter”.

READ MORE: EXPLAINER: How are hospitals in Switzerland handling non-coronavirus patients?
 

 


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