Switzerland might reintroduce travel quarantine for autumn

Alain Berset, pictured Saturday as his political party (Social Democratic Party) meeting Keystone / Walter Bieri

Swiss Interior Minister Alain Berset has told the NZZ am Sonntag that he is considering bringing back quarantine for travellers for the autumn holidays. His comments come amid a rising number of coronavirus cases and increased pressure on hospitals.

This content was published on August 29, 2021 - 11:17
NZZ am Sonntag/Keystone-SDA/ilj

"In terms of the autumn holidays, we need to consider what is needed. Travel quarantine could also play a role here again," said the minister in an interview with the Sunday newspaper.External link

New infections are back to 2,500-3,000 a day in Switzerland, driven by the highly infectious Delta variant. Hospitals have already reported pressure on their intensive care units, with some already delaying non-urgent operations or moving patients to hospitals in other cantons.

According to the Swiss Scientific Task Force scientific update of August 24External link, highlighted in the Le Matin Dimanche. “around 40% of hospitalised people were aboard beforehand and are returning travellers”. It too has recommended drawing up a strategy for returning travellers (quarantine/tests) in time for the autumn holidays.

Travel quarantine was lifted in Switzerland on August 4. The next major school vacations are due in the Swiss cantons in October.

Uncertain situation

However, Berset cautioned that the situation was not easy to predict in advance – perhaps the situation would calm down in the months after the end of the summer vacation, as fewer people would be returning from strongly affected areas, he said.

It might not even be necessary to extend the use of the Covid certificate (which provide proof of vaccination, recovery or a recent negative test result). The proposal, announced last Wednesday, is currently under consultation. The cantons have already signalled their support. The government is set to meet again this Wednesday.

The most important weapon in the fight against the corona pandemic is vaccination, Berset underlined. Here, the minister called on the cantons to do more, for example with mobile vaccination units to reach those put off by the vaccination registration procedure or longer distance to a vaccination centre.

Experts speak out

Meanwhile, Christoph Berger, Head of Infectiology at Children’s Hospital Zurich and Chair of the Federal Vaccination Commission, has called for the immediate introduction of the Covid certificate in restaurants, cinemas, theatres and smaller events. The fourth wave of the pandemic needed stronger measures, he told the SonntagsZeitung.External link

Infectious disease specialist Urs Karrer, a vice-chair of the Swiss National COVID-19 Science Task Force who also works at the Winterthur Cantonal Hospital, also warned of the pressure on health services.

At the moment, more than one in four who come with Covid-19 to hospital are ending up in intensive care, the doctor told SonntagsBlickExternal link.

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