This week, 142,085 new Covid-19 cases were reported in Switzerland, a record high since the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020. Given the high contagiousness of the Omicron variant, which now dominates in Switzerland, and how mild the symptoms sometimes are, the real number of cases could be significantly higher.
At the same time, the number hospitalised with Covid-19 in Switzerland this week remained relatively stable compared to the numbers reported since the end of November 2021 when the fast-spreading Omicron variant was first reported in Africa.
Over the last 7 days, 492 Covid-19 patients were reported hospitalised in Switzerland. This is similar to the weekly average reported during December 2021. Currently, there are 291 Covid-19 patients in intensive care (ICU) in Switzerland, a level broadly the same as the numbers over the prior three weeks. Overall, 78.9% of ICU is currently being used.
In addition, the number of Covid-19 deaths this week was lower than recent weeks. The Covid death toll this week was 69, down from 104 recorded the week before. Hospitalisation and death figures have a reporting time lag, so this week’s figures could be revised upwards once the data comes in.
A growing body of research suggests the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus leads to milder disease than earlier variants. This combined with high levels of protective immunity in the population, acquired mainly from vaccination, squares with current data that show relatively low levels of hospitalisation and death relative to the number of reported cases.
However, despite these encouraging signs, some Swiss experts are concerned by the runaway spread of the virus. At a certain point it becomes very difficult to change course. And even a small percentage of a large enough number of cases could strain hospitals. In the US, where daily cases are running at 750,000 a day, hospitals are feeling the strain and Covid deaths are on the rise. The percentage of Omicron patients needing hospital care may be tiny, but the growing number of cases is daunting.