Military on standby in Switzerland as COVID-19 cases surge
Switzerland records nearly 60.000 cases in four days
Across the country, 57.387 cases were recorded between December 31 and January 3 - almost double the number of cases in the same period the previous week. Although the jump in cases has caused some to sound the alarm, preliminary studies and anecdotal evidence have suggested that the new Omicron variant may cause less severe courses of COVID than previous variants, with infections less likely to result in death or hospitalisation.
Nonetheless, public health officials are still concerned about the rise in cases, since the Swiss healthcare system will inevitably be placed under more pressure. The surge has also caused mass staff absences at many businesses across Switzerland, leading to disrupted services on public transport, and reduced availability of medical staff and doctors. Some cantons have even gone as far as announcing the reduction of the amount of time people are required to spend in quarantine in order to prevent labour shortages.
The government has no immediate plan for new measures
Growing case numbers have not yet pushed the Swiss government to create new virus countermeasures. In an interview over the weekend, one official hinted that new restrictions could be on the way as soon as January 5, but no other member of the government or public health official has confirmed this.
The government has placed 2.500 military personnel on standby to provide support if the healthcare system becomes too strained. It is thought that they would mainly assist with logistical challenges such as transportation of medical equipment and patients. The military is also set to help vaccinate the population if extra vaccinators are needed due to absences.
So far, around two-thirds of the Swiss population have received both vaccines, and a quarter have already received their booster shot. It is hoped that a faster roll-out of the vaccine could help prevent more measures or another lockdown.