Switzerland’s Covid death toll passes 10,000

Switzerland's Covid-19 death toll topped 10,000 on Wednesday as health officials gave cautious signs of optimism that the pandemic was coming under control in the wealthy Alpine nation.

Switzerland's Covid death toll passes 10,000
Swiss President Guy Parmelin leaves a press conference Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

The landlocked European country, population 8.6 million, said 10,012 people had now died from the virus, while more than 664,000 cases have been registered.

But the government’s Covid-19 expert group said the situation was currently stable and even slightly improving.

“We have good reason to be optimistic,” the health ministry’s crisis management chief Patrick Mathys told a press conference in Bern.

UPDATE: Which countries are currently on Switzerland’s quarantine list?

Switzerland had some of the worst Covid daily case rates in the world in early November. Its daily case numbers bottomed out in the second half of February, began rising again in early March and then have fallen once more since mid-April.

The vaccination campaign is going according to schedule, with the pace of the rollout in Switzerland largely mirroring that of its surrounding European Union neighbours.

The country has administered nearly 2.8 million vaccine doses, with 950,000 people now fully vaccinated.

The country is using the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

The virus’s reproduction rate has fallen below one in recent days, Mathys said, with the figure now standing at 0.93.

Coronavirus patients occupy a quarter of available hospital intensive care beds.

Of the troubling mutations of the virus, the British variant continues to predominate in Switzerland, with the Brazilian and South African variants only rarely detected.

While the pandemic rages in India, the Indian variant has been detected around a dozen times in Switzerland.

“Little is known about it, either about its contagiousness or its effects on the immune system,” said Mathys.

Switzerland began easing its anti-Covid restrictions on March 1, when non-essential shops and museums reopened to the public.

On April 19 cinemas, sports halls, and cafe and restaurant patios opened — along with several large-scale vaccination centres in cities like Lausanne and Geneva.

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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?