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Covid: Several schools in Zurich return to distance learning

Several primary and secondary schools in the Swiss canton of Zurich have re-adopted distance learning due to significant increases in Covid numbers forcing teachers into isolation.

Covid: Several schools in Zurich return to distance learning
Schools in Zurich are back in distance education. (Photo by FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP)

Unlike previous orders for students to study from home, these have come about on an ad hoc basis, with too many teachers in isolation for replacements to be found. 

Switzerland’s Tages Anzeiger newspaper wrote on Wednesday “the state of emergency is back”. 

Impacted schools include the Friedrichsstrasse secondary school in Zurich-Schwamendingen and the Kügeliloo in Zurich-Oerlikon.

In several classes, parents were only notified the day before that they should take care of their children at home. 

Switzerland has seen a continued increase in case numbers since relaxing measures in mid-February, although hospitalisations and fatalities remain stable. 

The cases have spiked recently in Zurich, which experts believe is to do with bad weather forcing people inside in previous weeks. 

The peak of the infection wave is expected to be reached at the end of March, Swiss news outlet Blick reported on Wednesday. 

Switzerland is currently planning to phase out the remaining Covid measures at the end of March, provided the epidemiological situation was stable. 

Currently, masks must be worn on public transport and those who test positive must isolate for at least five days. 

READ MORE: Will Switzerland lift Covid restrictions amid rising infections?

The Federal Council has not yet indicated what the decision will be, even though three members — President Ignazio Cassis, Health Minister Alain Berset, and Minister of Economic Affairs Guy Parmelin — have all recently tested positive to coronavirus.

And Swiss media is reporting that an increasing number of MPs is also infected in the midst of the spring session of the parliament.

“The number of Covid cases literally exploded in the Federal Palace. In two years of the pandemic, never have so many MPs been confined at the same time”, reports Blick.

 

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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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