Emergency care workers urge Swiss government to act as Covid cases soar

The groups warned the psychological and physical toll the crisis was taking on emergency health workers could worsen if the authorities did not take "immediate coordinated" action to face off a second wave of infections. Keystone / Pablo Gianinazzi

Three groups representing emergency and rescue services called on the federal government to take immediate “coordinated measures to contain the second wave” a day after Switzerland registered a record number of new cases of the coronavirus.

This content was published on October 17, 2020 - 12:41

The Swiss Society of Emergency and Rescue Medicine, Switzerland Emergency Care and the Swiss Association of Paramedics – which together represent the majority of all emergency doctors, nurses and paramedics in the country – said on Saturday their members had been providing non-stop care since the beginning of the crisis, including operating emergency units, rescue services and test centres.

Without support from the authorities, the groups warned, emergency workers may not be able to maintain essential services. The groups pointed to the physical and psychological toll the crisis was taking on their members, which they said could worsen if the government did not take uniform measures against the coronavirus across the country.

A delay in introducing such measures was "absolutely incomprehensible", the three organisations said in a joint letter.

On Friday Switzerland registered a record 3,105 new cases of the coronavirus. Since the summer, Swiss cantons have managed the pandemic with a patchwork of measures.

Meanwhile, in a taped speech at a virtual convention of the Social Democratic Party on Saturday, interior minister responsible for health Alain Berset acknowledged the country was in the midst of its “greatest crisis since the Second World War”.

“We must all take our responsibilities,” he said, highlighting the need to respect hygiene rules. “Are we tired of the coronavirus? Yes, without a doubt […] But the virus doesn’t care.”

Rumours of stricter nationwide measures

Country-wide restrictions may already be in the works. According to communication seen by news agency Keystone-SDA and published on Friday evening by the CH-Media group, the Federal Council is actively considering new national measures to fight the surge in Covid-19 cases. These include making mask-wearing mandatory in all indoor public spaces, limiting gatherings in public places such as parks to 15 people, and recommending telework.

Keystone-SDA reports these measures have been submitted to the cantons for review. The Federal Council will meet on Sunday morning for an extraordinary session, sources close to the government told the news agency.

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