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Wengen to launch mass Covid-19 testing for hotel staff

Wengen as seen in January Keystone / Jean-christophe Bott

All hotel staff in the Swiss ski resort of Wengen must undergo a coronavirus test on Saturday morning, health authorities say. The reason: several cases of the South African and Brazilian variants in the village.

This content was published on February 19, 2021 - 17:05
Keystone-SDA/SWI swissinfo.ch/ilj

Wengen, in canton Bern, is where the iconic Lauberhorn ski race had to be cancelled in January External linkbecause of an outbreak of the British coronavirus variant. After thorough testing, the canton said at the end of month that the spread had been contained. Now two other variants have been found.

“Due to the presence of several positive cases of the South African and Brazilian variants among staff at different hotels in Wengen (sequencing still taking place) and given the impossibility of retracing the contamination chains, the cantonal doctor’s service has ordered that every member of hotel staff at the resort should be tested,” a canton Bern statement said on Friday afternoonExternal link.

The staff in the hotels that were initially concerned have already been tested and there have been no additional positive cases there. The medical authorities are also encouraging guests at these hotels to get tested.

The tests on Saturday February 20 will affect 300 people, canton Bern health department spokesman Gundekar Giebel told the Swiss news agency Keystone-SDA.

Unclear

It is not yet clear if the Brazilian variant is circulating in the Bernese Oberland, Giebel said. The tests still have to be sequenced. Officially no cases of the Brazilian variant have been recorded in canton Bern.

On Friday, Switzerland recorded 1,021 cases of the coronavirus, down by 20% compared to a week ago. But nationwide the number of cases of the different new variants is on the rise: the total number of these cases detected so far stands at 7,320External link (6,966 on Thursday).

Health officials have previously warned that the new coronavirus variants are around 50% more contagious.

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