Covid-19 hoaxes: Swiss residents sent fake texts and WhatsApp messages

Many people throughout the Switzerland have received SMS or WhatsUp messages from unknown sources in the past few days, spreading fraudulent information about the progression and management of the coronavirus pandemic in Switzerland.

Covid-19 hoaxes: Swiss residents sent fake texts and WhatsApp messages
Beware of dubious coronavirus claims. Photo by AFP

In the French-speaking part of the country, several people told The Local that they and others in their circle have received SMS messages claiming that Swiss hospitals are over-run and are turning away patients.

This claim is eerily similar to the one circulated in mid-March, when many people in Switzerland received WhatsUp audio messages, allegedly from medical personnel at Geneva University Hospitals (HUG), University Hospital in Lausanne (CHUV), and other medical institutions, saying there are not enough rooms for infected patients, and that sick people are either being turned away or left on gurneys in the corridors. 

Now, as then, these rumours are not true.

While beds in intensive care units and other critical care services in many Swiss hospitals are indeed reaching their full capacities, they are not at the moment saturated to the point of sending away sick patients.

READ MORE: What will happen if you have to go to a hospital in Switzerland during Covid-19 pandemic?

If a hospital cannot accommodate new patients, they will be transferred to another medical facility where space is available — and if possible, within the same linguistic region.

In the Swiss-German part, dubious WhatsApp voice messages are also making the rounds.

According to the Blick newspaper, an unidentified man and woman say that hospitals are falsifying coronavirus statistics for insurance money.

They allege that hospitals declare patients to be dead from complications of Covid in order to collect “4,000 francs from the insurance” for each patient who allegedly passes away.

These anonymous messages don’t give any specific or verifiable details about the location or the date of these supposed incidences. Nothing is revealed about the victims of the alleged machinations.

Nevertheless, the voice messages unsettle a lot of people, the Blick reported. One reader said that the woman heard in the message must be from central Switzerland, as she speaks in a “Schwyz-like dialect”.

Schwyz Hospital spokeswoman Nirmala Arthen told the newspaper the allegations about the insurance scheme are totally untrue.

“The current situation is a breeding ground for false rumours”, she said.



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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?