“We have in recent days faced a new dynamic, which is very negative and very strong,” Alain Berset told reporters. For the past week, he said “the situation in Switzerland is deteriorating faster than elsewhere.”
At first glance, the Swiss figures may not seem that impressive compared with the soaring infection numbers in neighbouring countries.
The wealthy Alpine nation of 8.5 million people registered 2,600 new cases Thursday — the highest daily number since the start of the pandemic.
Since the beginning, 71,140 cases have been reported in Switzerland and 1,817 deaths, amounting to 832 cases and 21 deaths per 100,000 people.
The proportion of positive tests in the country has meanwhile jumped from 5.4 to 10.2 percent in the past week.
Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga warned Thursday that a full-blown second wave was looming. “It is five minutes to midnight,” she told reporters, urging everyone in the country to take precautions.
“The swifter we act, the less restrictions there will be for the population, the economy, families and risk groups,” she said, urging everyone to “work together”.
The Swiss government is due to discuss whether fresh measures are needed to rein in the spread of the virus. Switzerland has lifted most of the measures imposed during the first large wave of infections in the spring.
Face masks are mandatory on public transport throughout the country, but only around half of the 26 cantons require them in shops and other public indoor spaces.
In Geneva, the hardest-hit canton, authorities this week meanwhile imposed a limit for spontaneous private gatherings of just 15 people, while demonstrations are limited to 100 people.
Switzerland has also slapped a mandatory 10-day quarantine on anyone arriving from a long line of countries, as well as on anyone who has been in contact with a known sufferer the virus — including Economy Minister Guy Parmelin.