Covid-19: How severe will the second wave be in Switzerland?

Even though the number of coronavirus cases has dropped significantly in the past couple of weeks, and life in Switzerland is slowly getting back to normal, Swiss experts are predicting a rebound of infections this summer. Just how serious will it be?

Experts around the world, including those in Switzerland, have different opinions about the severity of the second wave.

The Local has looked at two scenarios for Switzerland.

Scenario 1

A team of researchers from the Polytechnic Institute in Lausanne (EPFL) predict that during the second wave, several million people could contract Covid-19 in Switzerland – a much higher number than nearly 31,000 who have been infected throughout the country since the end of February.

And considering that Switzerland's population is only 8.6 million, this rebound, assuming it will actually happen, would have dire consequences, including 20,000 deaths.

According to Jacques Fellay, who supervised the EPFL study, conducted along with researchers from John Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA, “all the groups that do modeling of the epidemic in Switzerland come to conclusions very close to each other. The big unknown is the effect of the gradual loosening of the measures currently in place”.

“After confinement, regional differences will also be much less pronounced. The virus is distributed in all cantons, so there will always be new outbreaks in Switzerland”, he said in an interview.

READ MORE: Concerns grow in Europe over potential 'second wave' of coronavirus as lockdowns are eased 

Fellay stressed the importance of continuing to comply with protective measures even as normal activities are being resumed.

“If we go back to the way of life before, the epidemic will quickly overwhelm us,” he said.

Scenario 2

Didier Pittet, the head of the infection prevention and control service at Geneva's University Hospital (HUG) has a more positive outlook in regards to the second wave.

“If we continue tracking the virus to control infections, and if the population continues to comply with hygiene and distancing measures, we might have only minor waves during the summer,” Pittet said in an interview on Léman Bleu television station this week.

However, the situation may become more problematic in the fall, as other respiratory viruses, including the flu, will also circulate during that season, Pittet said.

In order to prevent the comeback of the disease, or at least keep it manageable, “we will have to be extremely vigilant in detecting new cases and putting them in quarantine”, he added.

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