How ready is Switzerland for more COVID relaxations?
With an official announcement expected on Wednesday over what COVID measures are to be relaxed, experts have been analysing the data to see if Switzerland is ready to “come out of the pandemic.”
COVID case rate continues to fall in Switzerland
With two days to go, the Federal Council is set to announce which variant of COVID relaxations will be enacted this week. In a statement released alongside the announcement, they said that their decision would be informed by the current epidemiological situation.
The announcement is expected as the number of new COVID cases continues to fall in Switzerland. Last Friday, the Federal Office of Public Health recorded 22.221 new COVID cases in Switzerland over 24 hours. This is a significant decline in cases when compared to the peak of the current wave, but is still more than the peaks experienced before the advent of Omicron.
However, the government has pointed out that the number of daily infections no longer has the same significance as earlier waves. Now, the focus is on the pressure on Swiss healthcare, measured by the number of admissions to hospitals.
Some Swiss hospitals remain vulnerable
Hospitalisations have declined in recent weeks, with the number halving since the beginning of January. However, pressure still remains in parts of the country, with intensive care units in Fribourg and Geneva being 95,7 and 86 percent occupied, respectively, filled with patients that have COVID but were admitted for another reason, and those admitted because of COVID.
Daily COVID fatalities have decreased slightly since the start of the year, although they have stabilised in recent weeks at around 15 deaths a day. In comparison, mid-December 2021 saw 30 deaths a day, and the end of 2020 saw 90.
COVID vaccination campaign stalls in Switzerland
As of February 10, over six million people in Switzerland have received at least one dose of the vaccine, meaning that 69,99 percent of the population has some form of vaccine protection. The number of new vaccinations and the number of boosters have been stagnating in recent months, with only 40,7 percent of the population receiving a booster so far.
The Federal Council will be expected to weigh the current data with the wishes of the cantons in its announcement of new relaxations. An official press conference announcing the changes is expected February 16, with the rules coming into force on February 17.