Switzerland’s hospital directors issue plea for tighter coronavirus measures

Switzerland's hospital directors issue plea for tighter coronavirus measures
A health worker monitoring a patient at the hospital of La-Chaux-de-Fonds on November 5, 2020. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
The directors of five of Switzerland’s largest hospitals have urged the health minister to impose stringent measures to reduce Covid infections, according to media reports.

In a letter to health minister Alain Berset, the directors of the university hospitals of Zurich, Bern, Basel, Lausanne and Geneva said the pandemic was forcing them to postpone operations for patients with other life-threatening conditions.

Gregor Zund, hospital director at the Zurich University hospital, said he wanted to see a full lockdown, including a ban on skiing, to bring the epidemic under control.

The newspaper SonntagsZeitung has reported that more than 4,000 operations have been postponed at the five hospitals since October.

Hospital directors said they feared that a third wave of coronavirus infections early next year could trigger a collapse in the health system, as intensive care beds were becoming scarce.

Switzerland has some of the worst per capita infection rates in Europe and the government fears the situation could spin out of control over Christmas.

On Friday it was announced that all shops, bars and restaurants would close from 7:00 pm until January 22, with the exception on the nights of December 24 and 31. 

“We're witnessing an exponential increase,” President Simonetta Sommaruga told a press conference in the capital Bern. “Our hospitals and our health workers are being stretched to the limit.”

In March, during the first wave of infections, Switzerland was not hit as hard by Covid-19 deaths and did not impose as strict a lockdown as some other European states.

It eased off those measures in stages, and many praised the Swiss handling of the crisis, with the emphasis placed on individual responsibility.

But relations among Switzerland's linguistic groups have frayed and government responses have come under fire since a new wave hit in the last three months.

With a population of 8.6 million, Switzerland is logging around 5,000 new cases and 100 deaths a day — a base level Health Minister Alain Berset said was far too high to start from if infections begin to double again.

EXPLAINED: Why are Covid-19 infections on the rise again in Switzerland?

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