Is Switzerland heading for a stricter system of COVID restrictions?
After discussions in nearby Germany and Austria hit the headlines in recent weeks, epidemiologists and virus experts in Switzerland are now considering the introduction of a so-called “2G system” - allowing only those who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or have recently recovered from the illness to enter certain public spaces.
Swiss experts see 2G as the last resort before a lockdown
As of November 10, Switzerland’s neighbour Austria has implemented a 2G system, whereby the unvaccinated are unable to enter some public spaces and events, in order to combat a dramatic rise in the number of COVID-19 cases. Exceptions are made for essential services like supermarkets and medical treatment. Now, Swiss epidemiologists are considering following suit, concerned that the arrival of the fourth wave in neighbouring countries could spell trouble for Switzerland too.
As the weather changes, people choose to attend large indoor events and crowded Christmas markets, which can increase the transmission of COVID-19 compared to events in the summer. The combination of these factors, and a lack of young people willing to take up the COVID-19 vaccine, are fuelling the latest rise in figures, according to Cantonal Doctor for Basel-Stadt, Thomas Steffen.
Steffen also stressed that booster shots for the elderly and immunocompromised are important for staying healthy in the winter season, and recommended the extension of mask mandates to large-scale events.
2G could encourage people in Switzerland to get vaccinated
Director of Epatocentro Ticino, Andreas Cerny, stated that, although the 2G system is not ideal, it could serve as a useful tool to encourage the unvaccinated to get the jab, especially for young people. Cerny added, “We have an epidemic of unvaccinated people. 2G can help convince these people to have the vaccination. After all, everyone wants to go to concerts or to a restaurant."
The virologist also expressed support for a new mask requirement in schools and has asked the Swiss government to investigate whether it is possible to extend the vaccination programme to children aged five and over, or at least from age 12.
University of Zurich infectious diseases expert, Jan Fehr, predicted political demands for action will be made if the conditions worsen and hospitals in Switzerland come under more pressure.
Currently, less than 15 percent of intensive care beds across the country are occupied by COVID-19 patients, though experts are concerned that the wards could fill up quickly as people spend time together over the Christmas holidays.