‘Only a Christmas miracle’ can help Swiss hospitals, say media

A Christmas market in Lugano. Are the government's latest measures 'too little, too late' to prevent hospitals from getting overloaded? Keystone / Alessandro Crinari

Swiss media have criticised the government’s Covid-19 policy, saying the stricter measures sent out for consultation on Friday will probably come too late to prevent a fiasco with overcrowded hospitals over the holiday period.

This content was published on December 11, 2021 - 12:30

The Tages-Anzeiger in Zurich, in an editorialExternal link titled “Waiting is reckless”, calculated that a two-week window was always needed to see whether new measures work. “And if they do work, it takes at least two weeks for this to be reflected in the burden on hospitals being eased.”

But in view of the record number of cases and the situation in the hospitals, Switzerland doesn’t have two weeks to react, the paper said. “The government should therefore have waived consultation this time.”

On Friday the government sent out two possible scenarios for consultation by the country’s 26 cantons before taking a decision on Tuesday. The first involves the so-called “2G” rule, limiting entry to indoor public places – restaurants, bars, cinemas etc. – to those who either are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or have recovered from it. Unvaccinated people would be denied entry. The second scenario goes further, proposing a blanket closure of places where wearing a mask is not possible.

For online portal watson.chExternal link, the planned measures are “once again too little too late for happy holidays”. It said it was “hard to imagine” that the proposals would be enough to prevent hospitals from getting overloaded over the holidays.

“The unvaccinated should stay outside,” reckoned the Basler ZeitungExternal link, which urged the government to introduce the 2G rule for as many areas of life as possible. Only this would quickly improve the situation, it reckoned. “Vaccination refusers prolong the pandemic and hold the rest of society hostage,” it said, adding that vaccinated people had “gone without” for long enough.

Breaking of a taboo

Swiss public television, SRF, pointed out that the 2G rule was long considered a tabooExternal link, unable to gain majority support in Switzerland.

“Although all neighbouring countries tightened their measures – Austria even opted for a lockdown – Switzerland stuck to its special path. [...] It’s questionable whether the taboo break with the 2G rule won’t come too late now. So late that even partial closures are becoming an issue again. For too long the motto has been ‘wait and see’,” it said.

“As a precaution the government has sent two scenarios for consultation in the hope that they won’t be necessary. But the question shouldn’t be whether one of the two scenarios will be implemented, but which one will be.”

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) sounded as though it had basically given upExternal link. “Intensive care units are filling up. And the government is considering 2G with mandatory masks. Only a Christmas miracle can help.”

It said the fact that the government didn’t know how to counter the looming threat of triage in intensive care units with anything other than further massive restrictions “ultimately shows how irresponsibly it has dealt with the freedom of its citizens”.

“Never should the government, never should we citizens have let it get to the point where we no longer have any room for manoeuvre,” it concluded.

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