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Experts warn Switzerland headed for ‘10,000 infections a day’ after winding back Covid measures

In view of the planned phase-out of the current restrictions, the number of coronavirus cases could skyrocket in Switzerland, experts warn.

Experts warn Switzerland headed for '10,000 infections a day' after winding back Covid measures
People sitting with social distance in front of Swiss parliament in Bern. Image: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

The Federal Council announced on Wednesday its strategy to gradually end all coronavirus restrictions before the end of the summer.

By August, all measures currently in place would be lifted, if the pandemic doesn’t worsen in the meantime, authorities said.

But this plan alarmed experts at the Covid-19 Task Force, who predict that once protective measures are lifted, contaminations will sharply increase.

“With the easing, Switzerland is taking a risk”, said the Task Force’s chairman Martin Ackermann.

The task force established two possible scenarios: one based on 100,000 vaccinations a day, and the other on 50,000.

In the first case, contaminations will peak at 10,000 cases a day in June, before dropping in July. The second scenario predicts from 12,000 to 15,000 infections each day.  

What exactly does this mean?

To put it into context, right now over 2,300 infections are reported daily in Switzerland, which is considered a lot.

As a comparison, even in the midst of the first wave of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, the highest daily recorded numbers did not exceed 2,000 cases — however, much less testing was done in the early days, so the numbers were likely higher.

Ackermann did note that the two catastrophic scenarios drawn by the Task Force “are not exact forecasts, but rather a general trend”.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What is Switzerland’s three-phase plan for ending Covid-19 restrictions?

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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”