Summer wave: the federal government should take over again

Summer wave: the federal government should take over again

Sermin Faki and Gianna Blum

Data from abroad do not bode well: the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) warns of a renewed increase in cases due to the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants.

This is the case in many places: in Israel, the number of new infections every day has doubled in the past four weeks. Corona’s government official Salman Zarka said this week that a new wave is about to begin and that a fifth vaccination is likely to be administered soon. Corona experts even recommend re-introducing the obligation to wear indoor masks.

In Portugal, the number of cases has also increased significantly, and not least: the number of Covid deaths in one week has almost reached the peak of the first wave.

How well prepared is Switzerland?

The number of cases is also increasing in Switzerland: on Tuesday, the Federal Office of Public Health (BAG) reported 10,289 new infections in the last seven days and 107 hospital admissions. The number of cases increased by 48.2 percent in the week. Hospital admissions increased by 8.1 percent. compared to the previous week.

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Even if the trend is not that clear – as early as mid-May there were over 10,000 new infections and as many as 150 hospitalizations a week – the question arises: how strong will the summer corona wave be? And how would Switzerland be prepared if such a scenario had unfolded in Portugal?

Not really, that is the answer. The federal government only wants to intervene when the tide is worse than the previous ones and hospitals are reaching their limits. The cantons themselves should search for so long – which, however, they reject.

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The wave cannot surprise you

After all, the federal government and the cantons are monitoring the epidemiological course. They collect case numbers, number of examinations, hospital admissions, and evaluate wastewater analyzes. So it is unlikely that any great wave would unseen and suddenly collapse above us. Individuals can also check how the virus behaves on the Covid FOPH dashboard. For example, it shows that Basel-Stadt, the Canton of Zurich, Geneva and the Principality of Liechtenstein currently report the most new infections.

This is how cantons can respond to epidemics:

  • Ban on parties
  • School closings
  • Masks are compulsory on public transport, in shops and at parties
  • Ordering isolation and quarantine for infected people and their contacts
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They are also committed to maintaining sufficient research, vaccination, and hospital capacities.

The Bund itself wants to

  • monitoring
  • the necessary coordination i
  • purchase of vaccines

restrict. It also ensures that technical aids such as Covid Certification and the SwissCovid App work in case they need to be reused.

“Nobody Wants to Be First”

One look at this list is enough to see that swift action is unlikely to be the next wave. Cantons will not be able to coordinate and agree so quickly. And it is virtually impossible for a single canton to take steps such as introducing mandatory masks or even banning parties.

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Health politician Lorenz Hess (60) sees it that way. “Handing over responsibility to the cantons won’t work,” says the national councilor’s center. “Nobody wants to act first.” And even if it does, there is a risk of a patchwork quilt that existed before and that no one will want to see again.

The federal government can order the funds again

This means that eventually it will be the federal government that will act again. And it can do it as well, as the Federal Council wrote in its May 18th base document: it can recommend certain measures to the cantons, such as the introduction of mandatory masks – and it can even order them if there is a threat to public health. And even without returning to the special situation in accordance with the epidemiological law.

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The Centrum Hess politician is preparing for this: “No resources are needed at present,” he explains. “But I expect the Federal Council to stop shirking responsibility and to exercise its powers.” In view of the growing numbers, the state government should now deal with what measures are conceivable and from what point in time.

Raise awareness – or just monitor?

Green National Councilor Katharina Prelicz-Huber (62) even thinks that countermeasures are now needed. Awareness-raising measures are needed “so that people will realize that Corona still exists – without spreading panic.” However, with conscious hygiene, the new peak can be slowed down. »

In turn, health politician SP Flavia Wasserfallen (43) believes that at the moment it is enough to observe the course of the disease and possible health effects. “I am more concerned about the staffing situation in the perspective of late autumn.” The cantons would need to coordinate to ensure that hospitals have sufficient capacity and to make emergency resources available – “even if it comes at a cost”.

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