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CONFRONTING CORONAVIRUS

Confronting coronavirus: The Local examines how Europe is tackling the crisis

In a new series of articles, The Local's journalists across Europe will take an in-depth look at the responses to different parts of the crisis, what's worked, what hasn't, and why.

Confronting coronavirus: The Local examines how Europe is tackling the crisis
If a programme has had positive results, we'll look at how it could be replicated; if it's failed, we'll investigate why. Photo: AFP

The coronavirus epidemic has exposed the strengths and weaknesses of each community it has affected, and given us an opportunity to learn from each other's successes and failures. Amid states of emergency and global travel restrictions, the world may feel smaller, but it's a time when collaboration and looking outwards has never been more important.

No country has stopped the pandemic or solved the accompanying crisis, but there are initiatives being implemented to deal with its devastating impact.

From the development of new treatments to government aid for businesses and from ways of dealing with loneliness to financial support for freelancers, there is now a worldwide focus on trying to mitigate the harmful impact of this virus.

Over the coming weeks The Local's journalists, based at the heart of affected communities, will take a detailed look at some of the solutions put forward to deal with the huge knock-on effects of the coronavirus pandemic. 

This will include large-scale responses by governments, for example how France and Germany have tried to support small businesses and how Switzerland has tried to help parents affected by the crisis. It will also include smaller-scale responses, such as efforts by a region, community group, or individual hospitals or business to mitigate the impact of the outbreak.

You can view the articles published so far in our new section on all homepages titled Confronting Coronavirus.

Looking at how countries are facing the pandemic, and evaluating how well different strategies are working, is essential not only to highlight the signs of progress, but also for holding decision-makers to account.

These articles will inform the rest of our coverage moving forward. If a programme has had positive results in one location, we'll look at what it would take to export that response elsewhere. If it's failed, we can look at what would be needed to improve it. Responses can't be copied entirely with an expectation of the same results in a different contexts, but we'll look for key takeaways that can inform policies elsewhere.

It doesn't mean we'll be switching our focus; we will continue to report on the problems that are still awaiting a response. And don't worry, we will also keep writing the essential practical guides and up-to-date news reports you need in order to navigate life here.

We also know that the crisis has a unique impact on the lives of those living outside their home country, who may lack a support network in their new home, and are often more likely to have insecure housing and employment. As always, our readers will be at the core of our coverage, and we will continue speaking to you about your experiences of the crisis.

This kind of in-depth, responsible reporting is essential, but it costs money. This project has been supported by a $5,000 grant from the Solutions Journalism Network, a nonprofit organisation dedicated to rigorous and compelling reporting about responses to social problems.

Thanks to this grant, all articles in the section will be free for other media outlets to republish.

As well as the Solutions Journalism Network, we are grateful for the support of our community of paying members. The 25,000 of you who have joined us have not only helped us to survive the crisis up until now, but allowed us to focus this important reporting on issues that affect our readers' lives and not just stories to garner 'clicks'.

If you would like to support The Local in our goal to provide essential and responsible English-language reporting from across Europe during this crisis and beyond, you can find out more here.

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COVID-19

‘Over a million people’ in Switzerland could be infected with Covid this summer

Though Covid has not been a nationwide problem in Switzerland during recent several months, the virus is circulating again and rates of contamination are expected to soar in the coming weeks.

'Over a million people' in Switzerland could be infected with Covid this summer

While the new wave has not been expected to hit before fall or winter,  Swiss health officials now say 15 percent of Swiss population — more than 1 million people — could catch the virus before then.

This is a large number, considering that a total of 3.7 million people in Switzerland got infected since the beginning of the pandemic on February 24th, 2020.

“More than 80,000 new contaminations per week” are expected in the next two months, according to Tanja Stadler, the former head of the Covid-19 Task Force — much more than during the past two summers, when the rate of infections slowed down.

At the moment, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) reports 24,704 new cases in the past seven days — double of what it was in April.

“The numbers are expected to continue to rise. Note that most of infected people will not be tested, so the number of confirmed cases will be smaller on paper than in reality”, Stadler added.

Although according to FOPH, nearly all cases in Switzerland (99 percent) are caused by Omicron and its sub-variants, which are less severe that the original Covid viruses, “more vulnerable people are likely to end up in hospital, and long Covid cases are also likely to rise”, she said.

Stadler also noted that Omicron virus can’t be compared with the flu, “because we observe long-term consequences much more often during an infection with Omicron than during the flu. Also, Covid can trigger very large waves, even in summer, while large flu outbreaks are rare at this time of year”.

There is, however, some positive news.

“The most recent data shows that 97 percent of the adult population in Switzerland has antibodies against Covid thanks to vaccinations and previous infections”, Stadler said.

Also, “in the long term, things will stabilise. But in the years to come, there will probably be waves in the summer too”.

READ MORE: UPDATE: When will Switzerland roll out second Covid boosters?

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