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‘An epidemic of the unvaccinated’: Switzerland alters vaccine rules amid pandemic’s ‘fourth wave’

The Swiss government has confirmed the country was being swept by the fourth wave of the pandemic, which has overwhelmingly hit the country’s unvaccinated population.

‘An epidemic of the unvaccinated’: Switzerland alters vaccine rules amid pandemic's ‘fourth wave'
Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

After a relatively stable period during the spring and the summer, Switzerland is now entering the fourth wave of the pandemic. 

This was confirmed in a press conference featuring government representatives and experts on Tuesday afternoon. 

Urs Karrer, from Switzerland’s Covid Taskforce, pointed out that around 90 percent of those in hospital have not yet had the vaccine, with the expert calling it a “fourth wave” and a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”. 

Image: Swiss Federal Office of Public Health

The average age of those hospitalised – and those in intensive care – is 54, much younger than during the previous waves of the pandemic. 

As a result, Switzerland has recommended pregnant women get the vaccine – while teenagers as young as 12 have also been recommended to get the jab. 

Just over 50 percent of the Swiss population is fully vaccinated, as at August 24th, with a further 6 percent having had one shot. 

Swiss hospitals: Sharp increase in the number of Covid patients in intensive care

Just how bad is the situation?

Fortunately, it is not as dire as it was at the height of the pandemic when many hospitals reached their full capacity.

The national average is now 7.46 hospitalisations for 100,000 residents, much lower than in the same period last year, when it reached 296.29 / 100,000.

However, what worries health officials is that the number of hospital admissions has been rising steadily — from 170 in the week of August 8th to 340 the following week, a 100-percent increase.

Two central cantons have the highest concentration of Covid-related hospitalisations: Glarus (29.56 / 100) and Obwalden (21.09).

Vast majority of patients, health authorities say, are those who have not been vaccinated against Covid.

And, according to FOPH, “Hospitalisation data should be interpreted with caution due to under-⁠reporting and reporting delays”.

This means current numbers are likely higher.

Unlike previous waves, when mostly older and vulnerable people were hospitalised, this time around most of the patients are younger and unvaccinated.

Also, most are foreign nationals returning to Switzerland from holidays in their home countries, especially in the Balkans, “who did not want to be vaccinated. Others did not know that they should have been vaccinated”, said Hans Pargger, head of the intensive care unit at the University Hospital Basel.

READ MORE: Why are most Covid patients in Switzerland foreign nationals?

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‘Curate your messages carefully’: Our readers on dating in Switzerland

In June, we asked our readers for their tips for what to do - and what not to do - when dating someone from Switzerland. Here’s what they had to say.

'Curate your messages carefully': Our readers on dating in Switzerland

Finding love – or pursuing lust – can be tough at the best of times, but a new cultural environment will undoubtedly throw up its own challenges. 

These differences can be fun, surprising or downright shocking. 

We asked our readers about their dating life in Switzerland. We wanted to know if they’d had any struggles or challenges – and how they could avoid them. 

Half had an ‘odd experience’

We had just over 30 responses to the survey, which is a relatively strong result for any Local Switzerland poll not focused on Covid measures. 

Approximately half – 53.1 percent – said they’d had an odd experience when dating someone from Switzerland. The rest – 46.9 percent – said they had not. 

‘Cold’, ‘closed’ and ‘cheap’

For those who said they had an odd experience, we got a full spectrum. Some of the responses were similar to previous reader callouts, while others were somewhat surprising. 

Jessica, who lives in Lucerne, said the Swiss – perhaps the richest country in Europe – can sometimes be cheap dates. 

“He claimed he forgotten his wallet and (on the) second date, the same excuses”. 

Several readers said the person they dated was “cold” and would not open up. 

READ MORE: Are the Swiss really unfriendly – or are foreigners to blame? 

Mariah, who lives in Zurich, said Swiss men can be closed and may not want you to be a part of their lives. 

“I am Brazilian and come from a very open and affectionate culture. I was dating a Swiss-French guy for 2 months and one day he organised a trip to the mountains. 

“He was during the whole way in the train talking about how amazing his birthday party would be in a few weeks and “everyone” would be there but he was never mentioning to invite me.”

“I mentioned to another Swiss friend and she said this is normal.”

Another reader, from Zurich, agreed, saying anyone making themselves vulnerable could mean they get hurt.

After telling a Swiss German man relatively early on that she loved him, the relationship changed permanently. 

“As soon as I had sent it, I realised “OMG, that is not what I meant to send…”, she told The Local. 

READ MORE: Great salaries but ‘no human warmth’: Your views on living and working in Geneva

 “It was not the way I had felt (yet), but the previously very cheeky and chatty (by Swiss German standards) guy suddenly started responding in typical very polite Swiss style, and only when I messaged him.” 

“This might have scared off someone from another culture, but as the Swiss Germans typically take their time to get to know people it was obviously unforgivable.”

Simon, who lives in Nyon, said he struggled with Swiss women. 

“Be careful, they are very feminist and can be domineering.”

What advice do you have for dating a Swiss?

Mariah said it was important to have a clear conversation about boundaries and expectations. 

“Don’t assume you will be part of their life without talking openly about it and don’t assume the relationship status either.”

Another, from Zurich, said you should think twice about what messages you send as the Swiss can be quite literal. 

“Curate messages carefully. Things can be taken very literally, and not easily be laughed off as a slip of the tongue / Freudian slip!”

Claudia said some cultural norms can be surprising at first. 

“They are super comfortable getting changed (naked) in public”, she said. 

She did however say that foreigners criticising the Swiss for being closed minded should take a good hard look in the mirror first. 

“Actually they are more fun than we think! Be open minded!”