Analysis: Which Swiss cantons have the fewest Covid-19 infections — and why?

Analysis: Which Swiss cantons have the fewest Covid-19 infections — and why?
Some Swiss cantons have few coronavirus infections. Photo by AFP
As the number of reported coronavirus infections is rising in Switzerland, it is easy to forget that some cantons have had relatively few cases.

On September 11th, Switzerland recorded 528 Covid-19 cases, the highest number since mid-April. 

However, most of the infections are concentrated in three ‘hotspots’— Geneva, Vaud, and Zurich.

According to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), until September 13th Vaud has registered 8,771 cases, followed by Geneva with 7,618, and Zurich (6,882). 

“These are urban areas. The population density is higher there than in the countryside”, Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset said in interview with TagesAnzeiger newspaper on Sunday. 

“Also, there is an above-average number of jobs in these regions and therefore high levels of travel. This leads to a higher number of contacts, which favour the spread of the virus”, he added.

But statistics show that the situation is much less dire away from large cities.

For instance, in each of the small cantons of Uri, Obwalden, Nidwalden, Glarus, Shaffhausen, Appenzell Inner- and Ausserrhoden, as well as Aargau, there has been less than 180 reported cases since the beginning of the pandemic in mid-March.

Except Aargau and Shaffhausen in northern Switzerland, the other cantons are located in the central part of the country, away from urban centres.

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It’s true that they are smaller and  less populated than the ‘hotspots’, but their geographical location away from clusters of big cities likely has an impact on the low number of cases.

For instance, Schwyz and Zug are also relatively small, centrally located cantons, but they have respectively reported 461 and 375 infections, which might be attributed to their proximity to Zurich.

Who is most affected by the coronavirus?

While at the beginning of the health crisis, Covid-19 hit predominantly the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions, FOPH’s figures indicate that this demographic has changed.

Of the nearly 47,000 people infected with the coronavirus in Switzerland to date, the biggest group — 8,728 — is that of 20 to 29-year-olds.

Next are the 8,266 people between 50 and 59, followed by the 30 to 39 group (7,332), and 40 to 49 (7,100).

Interestingly, 3,017 children and teens up to 19 years have also been tested positive.

All the official FOPH numbers relating to Covid-19 can be found here. 


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