1 in 10 people in Switzerland had COVID last week, says task force
New data from the Federal Office of Public Health has confirmed that an estimated one in 10 people in Switzerland had COVID-19 in the last week alone. Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, the Swiss National COVID-19 Science Task Force said that calls for a “Freedom Day” in February may be premature.
Switzerland hits record COVID case numbers
The vice-chair of the task force, Urs Karrer, said Switzerland had 230.000 positive cases of COVID-19 over the last week. Combined with the number of unreported cases, the task force estimates between 700.000 and 900.000 people were infected over the last week, the highest circulation of COVID ever seen in Switzerland.
While case rates remain high, the task force said that the sharp increase in infections has levelled out slightly. Currently, the “R value” - the rate of transmissibility in the community - has fallen from 1,6 at the end of December to 1,2.
COVID case rates have "decoupled" from hospitalisations
According to Patrick Mathys from the Federal Office of Public Health, hospitalisation rates are stable. The Tages-Anzeiger claimed that, unlike in the rest of Europe, the rate of people in hospitals in Switzerland has “almost completely decoupled” from new infection rates.
Karrer, who is also a doctor at a hospital in Winterthur, warned against misinterpreting the current situation, affirming that it does not mean that the Omicron variant of COVID is harmless. Instead, he blamed the drop in hospitalisations since November on the high level of immunity in the population and the "cautious" behaviour of the elderly.
In response to calls from businesses for a “Freedom Day” to scrap the current set of COVID restrictions, Mathys warned that the current wave has still not reached its peak and that a “Freedom Day” in February “just doesn’t make sense.” Jan-Egbert Sturm, professor at ETH Zurich and vice-chair of the task force, said that a freedom day could be the equivalent of businesses shooting themselves in the foot.