The Swiss Federal Council made a number of announcements during a press conference on January 12, 2022 relating to the COVID-19 situation in Switzerland, including the extension of the current measures.
Originally slated to end on January 24, 2022, the Council has now recommended an extension to the end of March, 2022. You may recall our post last month about the Federal Council announcing tighter COVID-19 measures.
Watches & Wonders Geneva is to be held between 30 March – 5 April, 2022.
There are no new measures apart from shortening the self isolation quarantine period to five days, effective today. The decision is applicable only those people deemed to be close contacts with an infected person – people who are in same household or have had comparable, close and regular contact with a person who tests positive. Those who have been vaccinated for less than four months or recovered, are exempt.
The Swiss government noted that this is in part to assist business and keep the economy operating. The wave of infections has, as it has been in the rest of the world, affecting the daily operation of many parts of the Swiss economy, with some 10-15% of the working population in isolation or quarantine at the worst point to date during the current Omicron variant outbreak.
Interior Minister Alain Berset also cited supporting evidence regarding the incubation and infectivity period of the Omicron variant in the decision. Nonetheless, he has also noted that the situation is not stable and difficult to assess.
The federal government will consult with cantons on the proposal to extend the current measures until March, and also on shortening the validity of the COVID-19 certificate from one year (365 days) to nine months (270 days), bringing Switzerland in line with the European Union’s COVID-19 certificate. This change in the certificate is scheduled to take effect on February 1, 2022.
The cantonal authorities, political parties, employer and trade union groups have been given a week to provide input on these two proposals, but the Federal Council will also submit other points of discussion with the cantons – the ban on face-to-face tertiary education, the restriction of capacity in large events, mask wearing, hospital acute care capacity, testing, vaccination and quarantine obligations upon entry into Switzerland, how to deal with the work overload at test screening laboratories, and rapid antigen tests.
Meanwhile, cases continue to break records, with 32,881 more laboratory-confirmed cases announced on January 12, 2022 for the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of confirmed cases since December 29, 2021 to 301, 986. An additional 249 people are in hospital, and there have been 1,157 hospitalisations in the last 14 days. Officials are concerned about the surge in infections overwhelming the health care system. The Federal Council stated that should the pressure on hospitals increase, they may introduce stricter measures.
In terms of hospital capacity, according to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) as of January 12, 2022 the occupancy of intensive care units is 75.5%, with COVID-19 patients 30.2%. The total hospital capacity of Switzerland is at 78.9% with COVID-19 patients being 7.8%.
To read the full press release, go to this link.
If you are on Twitter and interested in keeping up with research on COVID-19, Eric Topol is an excellent person to follow.
[Credit: Images and tables from FOPH]