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Switzerland ‘cautiously optimistic’ about course of pandemic

Switzerland's vaccination programme is slowly springing into life. Keystone / Laurent Gillieron

The falling numbers of Covid-19 infections and deaths is giving some grounds for optimism in Switzerland, but health officials warn that people cannot afford to relax with variant strains in the country.

This content was published on January 26, 2021 - 15:41
swissinfo.ch/mga

The number of infections has been gradually yet steadily dropping since the turn of the year. On Tuesday, 1,884 new cases were registered from the previous 24 hours. “We’re heading in the right direction, but unfortunately not quite at the pace we would like,” Patrick Mathys, head of crisis management at the Federal Office of Public Health, told a press conference on Tuesday. “It is therefore very important that we all continue to comply with restrictions.”

On January 15, lockdown measures were tightened with non-essential shops being told to close and workers being required to work from home whenever possible. Mathys said Switzerland could not afford to “sit back and relax” given the continued burden on hospitals and the growing number of variant strain cases (1,126 so far).

Nearly 200,000 Swiss people have been vaccinated against Covid-19 according to the health authorities. So far some 535,115 doses of vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have been delivered in Switzerland, of which 197,368 had been injected by the morning of January 26. The rate of doses administered per 100 inhabitants in Switzerland is 2.29.

Health Minister Alain Berset wants cantons to be in a position to administer 525 doses per day per 100,000 inhabitants next month. In June, this capacity will have to be tripled to 1,500 doses.

Many smaller cantons have been better able to deliver the vaccine at a faster rate than their larger neighbours, according to the latest statistics. Canton Zug in central Switzerland said it would have to pause its programme for a few days while it waits for more doses to arrive. This is to make sure that people get their second injections at the recommended interval from the first jab.

Zurich has decided to increase the number of vaccination centres from four to ten, covering a wider range of conurbations in the heavily populated canton, according to the Tages Anzeiger newspaper.

The newspaper also reports that other cantons may have to pause vaccination programmes due to the staggered nature of deliveries to Switzerland. This might hinder Berset’s wish for the rate of vaccinations to increase across the country, it says. The Tages Anzeiger says it has seen documents relating to the proposed vaccine delivery pattern from Pfizer and Moderna.

By the end of February, Switzerland aims to vaccinate anyone over the age of 75 and people with serious health conditions who want to take the jab. The plan is to vaccinate the entire population by the end of the summer.


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