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QUARANTINE

Switzerland slaps mandatory quarantine on travellers from UK and 14 other countries

Switzerland said on Friday that mandatory quarantine would be imposed on travellers arriving from 15 more countries, including Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands, due to their coronavirus infection rates.

Switzerland slaps mandatory quarantine on travellers from UK and 14 other countries

The 10-day quarantine restrictions, aimed at stemming the spread of the novel coronavirus, come into force from Monday.

The requirement will also apply to seven other European countries — Denmark, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal and Slovenia — plus Ecuador, Jamaica, Morocco, Nepal and Oman.

Quarantine is already imposed on arrivals from 44 other countries, including Argentina, Brazil, India, Spain and the United States.

What you need to know about Switzerland's quarantine rules for travellers

Areas of Switzerland's neighbours France, Italy and Austria are also on the list, with Brittany, Liguria and Lower and Upper Austria being added from Monday.

“People who have spent time in a country or area with an increased risk of infection and then enter Switzerland must go into quarantine,” the health ministry said.

Switzerland defines such countries as ones where the infection rate over the last 14 days is more than 60 per 100,000 people.

The wealthy Alpine country said Friday that its own rate was 61.7 over the  previous fortnight.

The restrictions apply to anyone who has set foot in one of the countries or regions on the list during the previous 10 days, other than passengers in transit.

Some 10,148 people were in quarantine in Switzerland on Friday after returning from a country deemed to pose an increased risk.

Anyone failing to declare their arrival to the authorities or comply with the quarantine can be fined up to 10,000 Swiss francs ($10,770, 9,260 euros).

Switzerland is meanwhile continuing to exempt immediate border regions in neighbouring countries from the quarantine requirements.

The government in Bern said earlier this month it was seeking a “pragmatic” approach by exempting areas impacted by heavy cross-border trade, and which are home to many who cross over daily to work in Switzerland.

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

Switzerland, a country of 8.5 million people, has recorded a total of 51,747 positive tests for the new coronavirus, while 1,777 people have lost their lives.

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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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