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Coronavirus: Swiss president says end of lockdown requires protective measures

Switzerland introduced nation-wide emergency measures on March 16. Keystone

Switzerland’s president says the easing of isolation measures implemented to limit the spread of coronavirus must be accompanied by an elaborate protection plan.

As a prerequisite, there must be no further increase in cases, Simonetta Sommaruga told the German-language weekly SonntagsBlick in an interview published on Sunday. She cautioned it is too early to know whether the peak of coronavirus infections has been reached.

Protective measures could include the use of masks and testing, although at what scale is in question. Sommaruga, who holds the rotating Swiss presidency 2020, categorically rejects the notion of completely isolating at risks groups, an idea floated by some experts for economic reasons.

At higher risk of contracting COVID-19, are those over the age of 65 and individuals with pre-existing conditions such as cancer, diabetes or high blood pressure. “We are talking about a very large number of people here,” Sommaruga said. “It is not possible to completely cut these groups off from the outside world.”

She maintains the government response to the global health crisis was neither too rushed nor unduly cautious. On the economic front, the government has guaranteed historically high sums to ensure that wages can continue to be paid and that liquidity is available.

Over the past few days, Switzerland has recorded between 500 and 700 news cases daily, adding up to more than 25,000 cases across the country. The coronavirus death toll has topped 1,000, making the Alpine nation one of the countries most affected by the pandemic to date.

The government is expected to announce next Thursday how it plans to ease restrictions introduced to counter the spread of the virus that originated in China and spread across the globe. Some European nations have already begun easing restrictions introduced to curb the pandemic.


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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR