Federal Council blasts Swiss cantons for lacklustre COVID measures

Federal Council blasts Swiss cantons for lacklustre COVID measures

Health Minister Alain Berset has criticised Swiss cantons for being too hesitant in imposing more COVID measures in schools and for not rolling out the booster jab fast enough.

Cantons criticised for a lack of continuity over COVID in schools

When answering questions from the National Council, Berset described the cantons' efforts to curb COVID-19 hospitalisations as too slow and too slack. He said the Federal Council had “unequivocally” demanded that each canton should impose mask requirement rules and regular testing in schools, something that hasn’t yet happened.

He noted that the government had offered to reintroduce testing in schools nationwide as part of the new COVID restrictions announced on December 3, but that cantons rejected the offer in favour of doing it themselves. “That also means that the cantons must bear the corresponding responsibility,” said Berset, who found that only 15 of the 26 cantons are carrying out regular tests.

COVID booster rollout by cantons is too slow

The Health Minister also criticised cantons for not moving fast enough in regard to the booster campaign, with concerns that many cantons just aren’t ready yet. He made the point that there is an excess supply of vaccines provided by the Federal Office of Public Health, and that it was now up to each canton’s healthcare system to act quickly.

Currently, data from the Federal Council showed only half of cantons were ready to offer booster shots at the start of December. Berset went on to criticise the cantons for the shortage of staff in Swiss hospitals, saying they should bear the responsibility of recruiting more medical personnel.

Cantons assure the public that the booster campaign is on track

In response, the Swiss Conference of the Cantonal Ministers of Public Health (GDK), the body responsible for cantonal healthcare, said that disagreements between cantons and the federal government in Bern “cannot be completely avoided.” They assured the public that both bodies were working towards a common goal.

"In view of the epidemiological situation, additional measures are needed immediately to curb the infection rate," the GDK said, despite cantons rejecting stricter measures two weeks ago. They also say they are doing their best to increase capacity in hospitals and hope to complete booster jabs for the over 65s by the end of the year.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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