Experts tell Swiss government it's too early to lift COVID rules
Leading epidemiologists have asked the Swiss government to put the brakes on any further relaxation of COVID rules in Switzerland. Experts say that the rapid spread of the virus risks has increased pressure on Swiss healthcare and that scrapping all measures is too much of a step into the unknown.
Longer-term impacts of COVID remain unknown
Speaking to SonntagsZeitung, a leading epidemiologist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Marcel Salathé, advised against the lifting of more COVID measures for the time being. Currently, Switzerland has scrapped the majority of its COVID restrictions, with the mask mandate in public transport and in hospitals, and the obligation to self-isolate when tested positive for COVID being the only measures that remain in place.
Salathé said that the current rates of hospitalisation and mortality are low because of the vaccination campaign and the high level of immunity in the population, making the disease as mild as the flu. However, because of how quickly the disease is spreading, he predicted that deaths and hospitalisations are likely to increase again, and warned that the long-term effects of COVID infections are not yet known.
Experts want Switzerland to keep masks in public transport
He advised the government to hold off on lifting the mask requirement in transportation, as they are a "simple means of protection" and he claimed that “no one is actually bothered by them.” He added that he would “keep the isolation requirement until the numbers are really low again.”
Salathé's advice comes amid a sharp rise in the number of COVID cases in Switzerland, with 32.087 cases reported on March 11 alone. The seven day average for COVID was 25.340 cases - 44 percent more than the week before.
New COVID wave likely in the autumn
Economics Minister and former president Guy Parmelin is the latest in the Federal Council to test positive for COVID, with Health Minister Alain Berset and president Ignazio Cassis testing positive in recent weeks. So far, the government has said that the recent rise in cases is to be expected and that there is no cause for alarm.
However, Salathé warned that Switzerland should expect another wave of the virus, as the weather in Switzerland gets colder this autumn. In order to prevent this wave from being too severe, he suggested that preparations should be made for a second booster jab.