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COVID-19

Covid-19: What will Switzerland announce on Wednesday?

The Swiss government will make an announcement on Covid measures on Wednesday. Early indications are that the quarantine may be relaxed, while additional assistance might be made available for businesses.

Swiss Finance Minister Ueli Maurer.
Swiss Finance Minister Ueli Maurer. Maurer indicated Switzerland could relax the quarantine rules from Wednesday. Photo: HERBERT NEUBAUER / APA / AFP

Amid higher case rates than ever seen since the start of the pandemic, the Swiss government will make an announcement on Wednesday regarding Covid measures. 

Swiss Finance Minister Ueli Maerer gave hope to those wanting to avoid tighter measures, saying “we have high numbers of infections, but the hospitals remain quiet”. 

While the situation is serious in some hospitals and ICUs in Switzerland, hospitalisations have not followed a parallel trend alongside case numbers as they did earlier in the pandemic. 

READ MORE: Why hospitalisations in Switzerland are not increasing despite soaring infections

As a consequence, it appears the government will not tighten measures on Wednesday, while there is the possibility some may be relaxed further. 

Quarantine

The most likely announcement on Wednesday will be a shortening of the quarantine. 

While the travel quarantine has been abolished since December, there is still a ten-day isolation requirement for anyone who has tested positive for the virus or who has come into contact with someone who has tested positive.

EXPLAINED: What are Switzerland’s current Covid measures?

More than 100,000 people are in quarantine across Switzerland at the moment due to this quarantine, which has already begun to wreak havoc on infrastructure, business and essential services who no longer have enough staff. 

Maurer told SRF on Sunday “it is actually appropriate that we reconsider the quarantine period.”

Some cantons have shortened the quarantine from ten days to seven days, while Cantonal Health Directors are pushing for it to be further capped at five days. 

Maurer said the quarantine for coming into contact with a positive-tested person should be abolished completely, although there have been no further indications the Swiss government intends to do this. 

Covid-19: Most Swiss cantons shorten their quarantine requirements

Sports clubs and restaurants 

Maurer also gave hope to bar and restaurant owners and patrons, as well as members of sports clubs or fans of amateur sport, when he told SRF no further tightenings were planned in this area. 

Again, Maurer said the most important metric was hospitalisations rather than pure case numbers. 

Financial support and help for businesses 

Businesses which have been negatively impacted by the pandemic may be entitled to greater support, under possible measures published by Switzerland’s NZZ newspaper. 

Currently, in order to receive government Covid support, businesses needed to establish they lost 40 percent in sales. 

Under the forecast measures, companies can receive support in paying fixed costs they cannot meet – even if these costs arise in the future. 

This can be rent, wages or other costs which cannot be easily adjusted. 

Any company which applies for such funds will need to show they have tried to take steps to improve their financial situation while they must also provide evidence of the costs themselves. 

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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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