The Omicron variant could be “the beginning of the end” of the Covid-19 pandemic, estimated on Wednesday, January 12, the Swiss government, which out of prudence wishes to extend the measures taken to stop the 5th wave until the end of March.
“We are perhaps on the eve of a turning point that could be decisive with the passage from a pandemic phase to an endemic phase with an immunity achieved in the population that is now reaching high levels”, declared the Minister of Health, Alain Berset, at a press conference. “The Omicron may be the beginning of the end, we don’t know, of this pandemic,” he said. If vaccination and cures are taken into account, the immunity rate for those over 20 years of age exceeds 90%, and even reaches 97% for those over 80, he explained.
Like the rest of the planet, Switzerland has not escaped the fifth wave, even if the capacities of hospitals are not yet overloaded. According to government experts, the Omicron variant accounts for about 90% of infections. “Omicron is highly contagious, less dangerous, but that is no reason to lower our guard. But this is not a reason to fall into fearmongering either, “said Alain Berset.
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Quarantine reduced to 5 days
During today’s meeting, the Federal Council (government) decided to shorten the duration of isolation for Covid patients from ten to five days. In order to get out of isolation, it will not be necessary to present any symptoms for 48 hours, as it already happens. The quarantine of contact cases is also reduced to five days. Since January, several cantons had already reduced this quarantine to seven days. It is also limited “to people who live together or have had comparable, close and regular contact with a person who has tested positive.” Those who have been cured or vaccinated for less than four months are exempt. “However, the situation remains fragile. We have an increase in infections which will lead to an increase in hospitalizations, as we can see in other countries, ”said the Minister of Health.
Faced with the fifth wave of Covid and in order to limit as much as possible the infections linked to Omicron, Switzerland decided on December 17 to limit access to certain establishments only to vaccinated or cured people (rule 2G), to restrict the number of participants in private meetings, make teleworking compulsory and reinforce the obligation to wear a mask. These measures were to end on January 24, but “given the hospital situation that continues to be tense,” the Government proposes to extend them until the end of March. To maintain the recognition of the Covid certificate by the European Union, the Federal Council also wishes to shorten the validity period of all vaccination certificates from 365 to 270 days.
The alpine country, which has about 8.6 million residents, has recorded more than 12,000 deaths from Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, or nearly 139 deaths per 100,000 residents. About 67% of the population is fully vaccinated, less than in other Western European countries.
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