From May 1st until July 1st, new coronavirus infections in Switzerland remained in double or even single digits.
From then on however, new infections in Switzerland have regularly cracked the 100 barrier.
Geneva and Graubünden have seen significant increases, replacing Zurich and Aargau as Switzerland’s new coronavirus hotspots.
Geneva the hardest hit
The western canton of Geneva has been the hardest hit in recent weeks, with new infections rising sharply.
Geneva has recorded 206 new infections in the past seven days, a rate of 58 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants.
Based on population figures, if Geneva were a country, it would be just below the Swiss government’s threshold for ‘high-risk’ countries that require a ten-day quarantine on arrival.
Cantonal officials point out that the immediate risk is less significant as those infected are primarily younger, however the risk of infecting a person in a vulnerable category remains high.
On Tuesday, July 28th, Geneva put in place compulsory mask requirements in shops and in the Geneva Airport.
Geneva. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP
Infections in Graubünden also high
Graubünden has also seen an increase in new infections and now has a rate of 31 per 100,000 inhabitants – just over half that in Geneva.
As reported in The Local Switzerland in mid-July, officials in the canton were concerned about a number of infections in the hospitality sector – particularly among people who were wearing plastic visors rather than face masks.
Declining infections in Zurich and Aargau
There was some good news however, with infections declining in Aargau and Zurich.
The northern cantons’ high infection rates saw them become coronavirus hotspots in late June and early July, after avoiding the worst of the pandemic during its peak in March and April.
Other than Graubünden and Geneva, no Swiss canton has an infection rate above 20 per 100,000 people. The Swiss average is 17 per 100,000 people.
Why are infections on the rise?
Authorities said that thousands of people arrived from countries at risk in recent weeks. But only less than half reported their return to cantonal health authorities and complied with the quarantine requirement.
Additionally, large-scale venues like clubs, where the distance rule cannot be observed, “are also infection hotspots”, he added.
Numerous cases of coronavirus had been identified in bars and clubs in several cantons, in what has become known as ‘superspreader’ events.
“The number of new cases is extremely important because it’s the earliest indication of the pandemic”, Antoine Flahault, the director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Geneva, , said in a YouTube video published by Le Temps newspaper.
The recent increase in the number of contaminations can be attributed to the lifting of various post-confinement restrictions, including freedom of movement and travel, Flahault pointed out.
But there is another reason too: more testing.
“The more tests are done, the more cases will be discovered”, he said.
He added that Switzerland went from about 3,000 daily tests at the beginning of June to 10,000 at the beginning of July.
“This explains, at least party, the increase in the number of cases in recent weeks”.