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Surge of Covid-19 cases reported in Switzerland over New Year

Doctors attend to an elderly patient in hospital
The health authorities are still concerned about the course of the pandemic despite a slow down in the number of serious cases in hospitals. Keystone / Laurent Gillieron

Nearly 60,000 Covid-19 infections have been reported in Switzerland over a four-day period encompassing the New Year weekend. The number of new cases is significantly higher than the Christmas period, but there were fewer hospitalisations and deaths.

On Monday, the Federal Office of Public Health said there were 57,387 positive tests from the previous 96 hours. In the corresponding time frame a week ago, some 36,261 people tested positive for Covid-19. The seven-day average for new infections rose 60% to 14,933.

However, there are indications that the dominant Omicron variant of the virus is less severe than Delta. Despite a rising number of infections, the number of patients in hospital with Covid-19 remained stable over the last week – standing at 1,683 on Monday. Recorded deaths over the last four days (57) were slightly down on the 69 fatalities announced a week ago.

Government and health officials remain concerned at the growing number of infections, partly because hospital staffing levels have also been hit by the pandemic. However, the government said on December 31 that it had no immediate plans to introduce tougher restrictions to combat the spread of the virus.

Up to 2,500 military personnel remain on standby to help treat patients in hospital, provide vaccine support, transport services and equipment, such as ventilators, should the need arise.

In the meantime, most Swiss cantons have followed government advice to reduce the period people must quarantine if they have been in contact with a Covid carrier, from ten to seven days. Several cantons have also started accepting vaccination appointments with children as young as five.

Just over two-thirds of the population is fully vaccinated with around 25% having received a booster jab.

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