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Switzerland at ‘critical’ moment in pandemic

Martin Ackermann, head of the Swiss Covid-19 taskforce, says people must act to stop rising numbers. Keystone / Anthony Anex

The head of the government’s Covid-19 taskforce has expressed concern about the rising number of cases and urged strict adherence to prevention measures.

This content was published on October 10, 2020 - 16:37

"I am concerned, we are at a critical moment,” Martin Ackermann told Swiss public radio on Saturday. “It is important to act quickly and correctly."

The number of new daily cases across Switzerland this week rose to over 1,000 for the first time since the height of the pandemic in spring (1,487 on Friday).

Switzerland's strategy is based on tracing the contacts of infected persons and breaking chains of infection, but the high number of cases makes this very difficult and costly for the cantons, said Ackermann, a microbiology professor at ETH Zurich. The number of new infections must be stabilized and reduced in order for contact tracing to remain possible, he insisted.  

Ackermann urged strict adherence to hygiene, mask and social distancing rules, saying people must not wait until hospital cases were up. "It is important that we are all aware that it is in our hands, that the measures will only work if we stick to them ourselves."

If, for example, a major birthday party were to be dispensed with, this could help to keep the situation under control, Ackermann said, ”because where many people gather, there is a high risk of infection, especially indoors”. The taskforce is calling for changes in the size and manner of gatherings, both at workplaces and private homes.

Meanwhile, authorities in Bern announced that some 1,000 people were being kept in quarantine on Saturday after partying at three nightclubs last weekend. Some 1,400 had been quarantined overnight Friday after one of them tested positive.

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