The SARS-CoV-2 virus has hit French-speaking Switzerland harder than the rest of Switzerland both before and since summer.
44% of Swiss Covid-19 deaths have occurred in the cantons of Valais, Vaud, Geneva, Fribourg and Neuchâtel, despite making up only 25% of the country’s population.
At a recent press conference, Martin Ackermann, head of the Covid-19 scientific Task Force, said the current reproduction rate was 0.78 across Switzerland. This rate refers to the number of people an average infected person infects, something driven largely by infectiousness and the nature and number of contacts those with the virus have with others. A figure below 1 means the infection rate is in decline, above 1 it means spread is accelerating.
Over the last 3 weeks the number of daily confirmed new cases of people testing positive for the virus in French-speaking Switzerland has trended lower.
In Vaud, new daily cases peaked on 2 November 2020, when close to 1,600 new cases were reported. In the 3 weeks since, the daily figure has trended down to around 400 – the 7-day average was 427 on 24 November 2020. Daily cases are now at the same level as they were two weeks before the peak when the canton began reintroducing restrictions.
The situation is similar in Geneva. Daily cases peaked there at 1,366 on 30 October 2020. Since then the figure has trended down to around 200 a day – the 7-day average was 226 on 25 November 2020. The last time daily cases were at this level in Geneva was mid October. At that time Martin Ackermann, head of the Covid-19 scientific Task Force warned at a press conference that hospitals could become overloaded within weeks if measures to contain the spread were not taken.
Swiss hospitals remain busy. Hospitalisations peaked on 16 November 2020, roughly 2 weeks after the peak in new daily cases. Despite a steep fall in new cases, hospitals are still flat out. Daily new cases have dropped to around a fifth of their peak. However, the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital has dropped by only 14% from 4,103 to 3,527.
Against this backdrop, the cantons of Vaud, Geneva, Fribourg, Neuchâtel and Jura have announced plans to reopen restaurants on 10 December 2020, according to RTS. These cantons have come together to harmonise reopening.
In addition, Geneva announced it will reopen non-essential shops from Saturday. All retailers except for essential ones have been closed in the canton since the beginning of November 2020.
Over the summer, Switzerland required people arriving from regions with more than 60 cases per 100,000 over 14 days to self isolate for 10 days on arrival. Currently, the rate across Switzerland is 690 per 100,000. In Geneva (956), Vaud (961), Fribourg (899) and Neuchâtel (911) the rates are even higher. A month ago when cases were as high as they are today, restrictions were being reintroduced. Now much of French-speaking Switzerland is planning to reopen.