Speaking to broadcaster RTS, Swiss health minister Alain Berset said the pandemic was under control and that it currently made no sense to declare an extraordinary situation, a provision in Swiss law on managing infectious diseases that allows the Federal Council to take charge of the situation over and above cantonal governments.
Declaring an extraordinary situation would be pointless right now, said Berset. We currently have all the tools we need to act and we must work with the cantons. We’ve shown we can do it. French-speaking cantons made a big effort in November and the situation is currently under control, said the minister.
Last week Switzerland’s university hospitals called on the Federal Council to do more to avoid hospital overload. In a letter, hospitals in Basel, Bern, Zurich, Lausanne and Geneva expressed deep concern that a possible third wave after Christmas could push hospitals to breaking point, reported the newspaper SonntagsZeitung.
Since October, Switzerland’s university hospitals have postponed around 4,000 operations to make room for Covid-19 patients. Covid-19 patient numbers are declining only slowly in Lausanne and staff are exhausted, said the director of the CHUV. In Zurich there were only three intensive care beds available, reported a hospital representative last week.
Alain Berset said that if the situation worsens new measure could be taken. The situation is serious enough that we must be very careful over the coming days. He pointed out that he expects cantons to close ski resorts if they are unable to control the epidemic.
On 15 December 2020, the head of Switzerland’s Covid task force called for new measures. Every day counts, we don’t have time, we have no margin and must act in a fast and uniform manner at a national level, declared the director at a press conference.
The Federal Council will continue to monitor the situation and consider new measures when it meets on 18 December 2020.
On 15 December 2020, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) reported 4,271 new daily cases of Covid-19 and a further 103 deaths. Switzerland’s death toll now stands at 6,261 (5,692 confirmed cases).