More variant Covid-19 carriers detected in Switzerland

The roll out of vaccines in Switzerland is taking place slowly but steadily. (c) Dpa-zentralbild

Some 28 people in seven Swiss cantons have tested positive for mutated strains of the Covid-19 virus. This is not enough to recommend tightened measures against the pandemic, but experts are concerned that a minority of cases have had no contact with British people.

This content was published on January 5, 2021 - 15:39

Members of the Swiss Covid-19 taskforce said on Tuesday that they are closely monitoring the situation with the help of universities. Cantons have also been stepping up their contact tracing efforts to keep abreast of the variant strain’s spread.

The general spread of the virus stabilised over the Christmas period, but its numbers are only falling gradually. On Tuesday some 4,020 new cases were reported from the previous 24 hours, with 98 deaths.

Swiss government ministers are due to give an update on partial lockdown measures on Wednesday, but the taskforce is not recommending the closure of schools at present. Variant Covid-19 strains were first detected in Switzerland last month, having arrived from Britain and South Africa.

The mutated form of the virus is not believed to be more deadly than previous strains but is more prone to spread among people. “Since the rate of virus activity is still far too high in Switzerland, we must try to delay the spread of these mutants until broad vaccination is possible,” said Rudolf Hauri, president of the Association of Cantonal Doctors.

Some 233,000 doses of the Pfizer/Biontech vaccine have already been delivered to Switzerland, a number that is expected to rise to 500,000 doses by the end of this month and a million in February. Some cantons began vaccinating last month, with a nationwide programme starting this week.

Hauri called for patience as the vaccines require specialised storage, handling and injection method. The plan is to vaccinate everyone in Switzerland who wants to have the jab by early summer.

The Swiss authorities have faced criticism for failing to have a vaccination scheme ready in time, particularly a supporting IT system. The Covid-19 taskforce said this system should be online soon.

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