UPDATED: Brazilian coronavirus mutations detected in Zurich and Geneva

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UPDATED: Brazilian coronavirus mutations detected in Zurich and Geneva
Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Two cantons in Switzerland have now recorded cases of the Brazilian coronavirus mutation.


Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health confirmed on Tuesday that one case of the Brazilian variant of coronavirus has been recorded in Switzerland. 

On Thursday, the FOPH confirmed that the case was detected in Zurich. Two further cases have been detected in the canton of Geneva. 

FOPH spokesperson Virginie Masserey told the media on Tuesday that the variant has been found in Switzerland. 

"Yesterday, we were informed that a first case of the Brazilian variant (P7) has been detected in Switzerland," Masserey told reporters, without providing further details.


British and South African variants in Switzerland

In addition to the Brazilian variant, the British and South African variants have also been detected in Switzerland. 

The number of cases of new virus variants detected in Switzerland had doubled in the last week. As at Thursday, February 11th, there are now 5,311 mutation cases recorded in Switzerland.

In total, 2,064 of these are the British variety, 83 from South Africa, three from Brazil and 3,161 of an unclear origin.  

The variants are said to be more infectious and more resistant to vaccines. The detection of an outbreak of the South African variant in neighbouring Austria has led to a statewide isolation order on Tuesday

While the exact origin of the variants is uncertain, the country attributed to them is the first country in which they have been detected. 

Virginie Masserey, of the FOPH, said that the British variant of the virus remained the biggest challenge at present for Swiss authorities. 

“When it comes to mutations, we are mostly dealing with the British variant (B117),” she said. 

“We have to keep doing a lot of testing. We also discovered the first case of the Brazilian variant. However, this has to be clarified in more detail.

“It's definitely a more contagious variety. Even those who have already been infected can be infected again.”


Partial lockdown working

A partial lockdown and other restrictions in place in recent weeks have meanwhile helped drive down the number of new cases, hospitalisations and deaths, experts said.

Switzerland likely to tighten coronavirus measures to 'save summer'

But the growing prominence of the new, more contagious variants has experts worried.

While the new variants still only account for a fraction of the overall cases, Bern epidemiologist Christian Althaus told public broadcaster SRF that they account for 60-70 percent of new cases spotted in Geneva.

In the rest of the country, they account for around 40 percent of new cases, the broadcaster reported.


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