Parliament approves army deployment in second Covid wave

The army's tasks now include helping civilian hospital facilities with basic treatment Keystone

The Swiss government’s decision at the beginning of November to support the health service with up to 2,500 army personnel has now received the approval of parliament.

This content was published on December 2, 2020 - 17:32

This was necessary since the maximum deployment exceeds 2,000 personnel and lasts for more than three weeks. Following the Senate, the House of Representatives voted on Wednesday without any dissenting votes. The Greens abstained.

The task of the armed forces is now to help civilian hospital facilities with basic treatment, to support cantonal hospitals in expanding the capacity of their intensive care units and to transport infectious patients. This enables the civilian nursing staff to concentrate on treating patients with severe disease progression.

The army deployment runs until March 31.

Parliamentarian Thomas Rechsteiner said the mandate was more clearly defined now than in the spring. During the first wave of Covid-19 there were cases of underused army personnel standing around inside or in front of hospitals. “Now we need helping hands instead of waiting legs,” he said.

Around 650 members of the army are currently on Covid duty, according to Defence Minister Viola Amherd.

She thought the costs of the operation could be absorbed by the existing budget and that no additional funds would be necessary. If that were to change next year, the defence ministry would apply for a supplementary credit, she said.

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