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Swiss politicians call for China Covid test requirement

covid test
Authorities still have time to decide: there are no direct flights expected from China in the next fortnight. Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

Various politicians from across the party spectrum want to follow European neighbours in imposing stricter travel rules, newspapers report on Sunday.

Ahead of a likely government decision on Wednesday, the weekend press cites politicians from all major Swiss parties in favour of a negative test obligation for travellers from China, where coronavirus numbers are spiking.

“We should move to strictly control the borders now, otherwise we’ll have to bring in preventive measures in Switzerland later,” Thomas Aeschi of the Swiss People’s Party told the NZZ am Sonntag.

So far Swiss authorities have held off on such a requirement. A European Union recommendation earlier this week prompted various countries to introduce the measure, and now all of Switzerland’s immediate neighbours – Austria, France, Germany, and Italy – have a negative test rule.

Lukas Engelberger, president of Switzerland’s Conference of Cantonal Health Directors, told the NZZ am Sonntag that Switzerland should act “as much as possible” in coordination with other EU states.

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Mandatory vaccination

Epidemiologists cited had a slightly different view. Huldrych Günthard of the University Hospital of Zurich told the SonntagsBlick that such a testing regime made “no sense”; mandatory vaccination for travellers from China is the best way to reduce the risk of overburdening the Swiss healthcare system, he said.

Manuel Schibler, head of virology at the University Hospital of Geneva, reiterated to Le Matin Dimanche the importance of continuing to collect data via regular sequencing of test results. This is sufficient to “get an idea of what is circulating in our country”, he said.

The Federal Office of Public Health has maintained that the high level of Covid-19 immunity among the Swiss population, via vaccination or infection, is enough to prevent a new wave. “We do not think the current outbreak in China could pose a major risk to the Swiss healthcare system,” it said on Friday.

The NZZ am Sonntag writes that the first direct flight from China to Switzerland is due to arrive in Geneva on January 26.

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