Contact tracing not working properly, writes paper

Contact tracing is part of the government's strategy to break chains of infection. Keystone / Laurent Gillieron

Contact tracing is no longer working in some parts of Switzerland, owing to the recent sharp rise in coronavirus cases, reports the SonntagsZeitung newspaper.

This content was published on October 11, 2020 - 12:10

In Zurich, for example, it says the contact tracing team is so overwhelmed that the canton now leaves it to potentially infected people to alert their contacts themselves. This is confirmed to the paper by cantonal health department spokeswoman Lina Lanz.

Sonntagszeitung says it also knows of several cases in which contact tracing failed and potentially infected persons were not alerted. In many cantons, only 10-20% of newly infected persons were quarantined at the time of a positive coronavirus test, it writes.

"Greater efficiency is needed to break chains of infection,” Bern-based epidemiologist Nicola Low tells the paper. “The rate of those already in quarantine when the infection is confirmed must be increased to 80 percent."

Marcel Tanner, epidemiologist and member of the government’s Covid-19 taskforce admits that "contact tracing is reaching its limits in some places”. But he says "we must not give up contact tracing now under any circumstances” and the cantons must "make even greater efforts, otherwise a second wave will hit us".

The number of new daily cases across Switzerland this week rose to over 1,000 for the first time since the height of the pandemic in spring.

Government winter strategy

A spokesman for the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) has told the Swiss news agency Keystone-SDA that the government is working, in collaboration with the cantons, on a winter strategy to fight coronavirus. The strategy will be announced in the coming weeks, he said.

He thus confirmed a report in the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday saying the government is considering various scenarios for regional lockdowns to stop the spread of the virus. The article is sourced to reports of telephone conversations between the FOPH and cantonal doctors.

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