Two Swiss care homes hit by deadly virus outbreaks

Ninety people have tested positive for Covid-19 and eight have died in two care homes in central Switzerland in two of the largest outbreaks seen in retirement facilities, local authorities said.

Two Swiss care homes hit by deadly virus outbreaks
Elderly people in care homes are in the 'high-risk' group. Photo by AFP

The new clusters come amid a steady rise in cases in the country since mid-June, despite low and stable case numbers compared to its European neighbours.

In the Siviriez nursing home in the canton of Fribourg, 37 elderly residents and 19 staff members have tested positive for Covid-19. Seven people have died in the past week, the canton's authorities said in a statement Thursday.

Civil defence forces were called in to help and some sick residents have been moved to hospital as there were no longer enough staff to care for them, it said.

In the Maison Bourgeoisiale retirement home in Bulle, also in Fribourg, 21 residents and 13 staff have tested positive, the canton said, adding that one person there had died.

Other nursing homes in the canton have seen sporadic cases, it said, adding though that most of those had been among staff members.

Switzerland, a country of some 8.5 million people, has so far counted more than 45,000 cases of the novel coronavirus and over 1,700 deaths.

Despite bordering northern Italy — the early epicentre of the virus in Europe — Switzerland was not hit as hard in the first months of the pandemic and did not impose as strict a lockdown as some other European states.

Daily case numbers regularly topped the 1,000 mark in March, but hit a very low and stable level in mid-June. They have been steadily on the rise since then.

Since last week, authorities have repeatedly reported more than 400 new cases per day.

New deaths and hospitalisations meanwhile remain low. 

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Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival cancels concerts of unvaccinated British artists

Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival announced on Friday that it was forced to drop the acts of four UK-based artists from its summer program because they haven’t been fully vaccinated yet.

Switzerland's Montreux Jazz Festival cancels concerts of unvaccinated British artists
British singer-songwriter Rag'n'Bone Man was dropped from Montreux Jazx Festival. Photo: GUILLAUME SOUVANT / AFP

The move was done in order to comply with current Covid-19 entry rules into Switzerland, which state that from June 26th, travellers from outside the Schengen zone, including Brits, will only be allowed to enter Switzerland if they have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from the virus. 

READ ALSO: Switzerland relaxes travel rules for vaccinated Americans and Brits: What you need to know

British soul singer Rag’n’Bone Man who was one of the headliners for the 2021 edition of the festival, which starts on July 2nd, will now no longer be able to attend due to not being fully vaccinated.

Other unvaccinated acts based in the UK who were also dropped because of the new entry rules include Inhaler, Alfa Mist and the Yussef Dayes Trio.

The artists have already been replaced with other performers from around Europe including Italian singer Zucchero, Woodkid, Dutch songwriter Benny Sings and Danish jazz trio Athletic Progression.

In a statement on June 25th, festival organisers said they were trying to make sure that the concerts of the other UK artists would continue to go ahead, however it is tricky because of fears over the Delta strain of the Covid virus, which has now become dominant in Britain.

“Whether or not these artists can come depends on their vaccination status and that of their touring entourage, as well as their ability to quarantine at the start of their European tour or before their concert at Montreux,” they said.

The Montreux Jazz Festival is one of just a small handful of big music festivals in Switzerland that will still go ahead this summer. Other music events such as St Gallen Open-Air, Paléo and Bern’s Gurten festival have been cancelled for the second year in a row, due to ongoing fears over the Covid-19 virus.

READ ALSO: UPDATE: What rules do European countries have for travellers from the UK?