This week, 42,518 new cases of Covid-19 were reported in Switzerland, up 41% from the 30,254 recorded the week before. On a 7-day moving average basis the number of daily new cases was 6,074. Daily case numbers are not far from last winter’s peak.
So far, similarly high case numbers have not translated into the same level of hospitalisation and death as last winter. Vaccines and natural immunity have weakened the link between infection and severe disease.
However patient numbers are rising and the Federal Government has warned the cantons to brace their hospitals for the arrival of more Covid patients. On Thursday, Swiss president Guy Parmelin wrote to the cantons warning them to prepare for a surge in numbers, reported RTS.
This week, 368 Covid-19 hospital admissions were recorded, a figure likely to rise to around 550 once data collection catches up with reality. This would represent a 25% rise on last week.
Covid deaths, while far from the level of last winter, are also rising. 72 deaths were reported this week, a number likely to rise to around 95 once the data comes in. This figure is 55% above the level last week.
Philippe Eckert, head of the CHUV hospital in Lausanne, told RTS that the situation is worsening. There has been a significant rise in patients. There were four Covid patients in intensive care (ICU) five days ago. Now there are 12. The rise has been fast and the hospital is already very busy, he said.
This week, two Covid patients were transferred from Morges hospital to the CHUV, reported RTS. Hospitals are also considering postponing non-urgent operations.
Switzerland currently has 863 places in intensive case with 160 free, roughly 1 per 50,000 residents. With a ratio this high only a tiny percentage of cases need to be serious to run out of capacity. Currently, Covid-19 patients occupy 22% of total ICU beds, with other patients occupying a further 59%, leaving 19% (160) vacant.
Not being vaccinated remains a key feature of those ending up in hospital with Covid-19. Across Europe a clear correlation can be seen between Covid death rates and low rates of vaccination. On vaccination Switzerland (67%) remains somewhere in the middle, having risen by less than 0.3 percentage points this week. Vaccination rates in Europe range from 89% (Portugal) to 22% (Bulgaria). Over the last 7 days, there were 9 deaths per million in Portugal and around 120 per million in Bulgaria. Over the course of the pandemic Bulgaria has lost 0.4% of its population to Covid-19 according to official figures and 0.7% based on one excess death estimate.