Investigation opened into Covid-19 outbreak at nursing home

According to media reports, around 20 people died at the nursing home from Covid-19. Keystone / Gian Ehrenzeller

Three nursing home workers in Italian-speaking Switzerland are being questioned on charges of manslaughter following a deadly Covid-19 outbreak at the home.

This content was published on October 13, 2020 - 19:43

The attorney general in canton Ticino announced that it was launching criminal proceedings against the individuals on Tuesday. According to media reports, some twenty residents died of Covid-19 at the nursing home in Sementina between March and May 2020.

"Three people working at the facility were questioned as defendants. The offenses are manslaughter, in light of deaths of patients who tested positive for the virus at the home and violations of the federal Epidemics law due to a possible failure to comply with directives," said the Ticino police.

According to the local authorities, the investigation was launched following statements from relatives of a deceased resident. The attorney general launched criminal proceedings after reviewing documents from the cantonal doctor's office

Ticino, which borders northern Italy, has been among one of the hardest hit areas in the country by Covid-19. Canton Ticino accounts for just 4% of the Swiss population, but its share of Covid-19 related deaths is around 17%. More than 350 deaths from Covid-19 in Switzerland were reported in Ticino.

More alarm bells

Switzerland recorded 1,445 new cases on Tuesday. This is double the number of daily new infections from the previous week. Two weeks ago, new daily cases hadn’t exceeded 1,000 since the height of the pandemic in spring.

“Concern. This is the word of the hour," Lukas Engelberger, President of the Conference of Health Directorates, told Swiss public television, SRF, on Tuesday.

The case numbers had been stagnating or even declining for a relatively long time. "It is possible that the situation gave us too much confidence," said Engelberger.

Individual cantons have introduced more measures to contain the virus that has created a patchwork of policies and restrictions across the country. As cases rise, the government has come under increasing pressure from public health experts and politicians to address the situation.

Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga and Health Minister Alain Berset announced on Monday that they will convene a summit with cantonal authorities on Thursday to determine the best way forward.

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