Geneva extends Covid-19 restrictions until mid-November

Given the number of infections and hospitalisations in Geneva is the second-highest in Switzerland, health authorities have decided to prolong coronavirus restrictions currently in place.

Geneva extends Covid-19 restrictions until mid-November

Geneva cantonal doctor Aglaé Tardin announced on Thursday that due to the “extremely tense” coronavirus situation in the region, all the preventive measures put in place in mid-August are being extended until November 16th.

They include the obligation to wear a mask in shops and restaurants, and the requirement to consume food and drinks only when seated.

Restaurants will have to continue collecting customer data as well.

Also, nightclubs will remain closed, while private events are still limited to 100 people, unless distancing and mask wearing can be guaranteed. Groups of more than 1,000 people must continue to be divided into groups of up to 100 people, even though events with more than 1,000 participants are allowed in Switzerland from October 1st. 

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What you should do if you need a Covid-19 test in Switzerland?

With nearly 8,600 cases of Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic in March, Geneva is the second heaviest-hit canton in Switzerland. Only Vaud has registered more cases — over 10,630 so far.

In the past two to three weeks, daily numbers of contaminations in Geneva exceeded 60, and the number of hospitalisations now stands at 38, Tardin said.

“We are concerned about what we are seeing here at the epidemiological level,” she said in an interview with Tribune de Genève in August.

According to Health Minister Alain Berset, Geneva’s high rate of infection can be explained by the fact that it is a densely populated area.

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

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‘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?