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Hundreds protest Covid restrictions in Switzerland

Around 500 demonstrators wearing protective suits marched through the Swiss tax haven of Zug on Saturday to protest against the government's Covid restrictions.

Hundreds protest Covid restrictions in Switzerland
Protestors in Zug, Switzerland on Saturday 6 February 2021. Photo: Twitter user @tinu661

The demonstration was similar to a rally a week ago in Vienna, where thousands of protesters opposed to Austria's lockdown and called on the government to resign.

Though Switzerland’s restrictions have been less severe than those in Germany, Austria or Italy – restaurants and non-essential shops are closed but ski areas are open – there is still noticeable opposition.

In Zug, police watched but did not intervene as a group of protesters marched from the train station to the centre of the lakeside city, known its attractive tax rates.

Marchers wore placards that read “Wearing a mask is modern slavery”. A loudspeaker droned, “Closeness is dangerous” and “Denounce those you love”.

 

“I want to make a statement, that the citizens are the ones who are in control, and the state should be there to serve its citizens,” one man told Reuters, without giving his name.

A woman said she was there for the next generation.

“I'm a grandmother,” she told the news agency. “I don't want my grandchildren to grow up in a world where so much is forbidden.”

Earlier this week, coronavirus sceptics in Switzerland were refusing to pay their mandatory TV licence fees due to the media's coverage of the pandemic.

Switzerland's health minister Alain Berset said last week the government planned to keep existing restrictions in place until at least the end of the month, and potentially longer, as more infectious coronavirus variants spread.

READ ALSO: Swiss Health Minister: 'No relaxation of coronavirus measures in February'

COVID cases in Switzerland have dropped since hitting their peak late last year, though there were more than 1,500 new infections on Friday. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 530,000 Swiss have been infected and almost 9,000 have died.

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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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