Novel Covid strain also identified in Switzerland

On Thursday the flight ban was partially lifted to repatriate British tourists from Switzerland. More flights are scheduled over the next few days. Keystone/Salvatore Di Nolfi

The first cases of patients with the new strain of coronavirus have been confirmed in Switzerland.

This content was published on December 26, 2020 - 15:46

According to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), the novel Covid-19 variant VOC-202012/01 has been identified in three samples.

Two patients are resident in Britain and tested positive for Covid in Switzerland over the past few days. News of a third patient came out on Saturday.

“All close contacts have been identified and quarantined,” a FOPH spokeswoman told Swiss public broadcaster SRF, confirming a report in the Sonntagszeitung newspaper on Saturday. In addition, in these “special cases” the contacts of the contacts will also be clarified “and quarantined if necessary. The work is ongoing”.

The health office said it had informed the cantonal authorities, all in German-speaking Switzerland. It declined to say which cantons, exactly.

New strains of coronavirus were found independently in Britain and South Africa earlier this week. The new variant is reported to have spread to several countries in Europe as well as to Australia and Singapore.

Switzerland on Monday imposed an entry ban for tourists from Britain and South Africa. Flights to both countries were suspended.

Scheduled flights

However, the ban was partially lifted on Thursday to allow several flights for British tourists from Zurich and Geneva as well as for Swiss residents in Britain.

Further flights are scheduled in the coming days according to the Swiss news agency, Keystone-SDA.

An estimated 10,000 British winter tourists arrived in Switzerland since December 14. They were ordered to go into a ten-day quarantine.

The health office said it contacted passengers from Britain and South Africa via text message to inform them about the health safety regulations.

The government’s advisory Covid task forceExternal link has called for increased testing and tracing efforts to detect possible cases with the new variant of coronavirus in Switzerland.

The experts warned that the new strain made it more difficult to contain the pandemic, according to a statement published on Friday.

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