This week, 171,085 new Covid-19 cases were reported in Switzerland, up 42% from the 120,901 cases reported a week earlier. In addition, the reported number of Covid-19 patients hospitalised leapt too. This week 482 were admitted, up 37% from 352 the week before.
The 7-day average case number had been in constant decline since the end of January 2022. However, the number of new cases turned upwards towards the end of February. On 11 March 2022, 32,087 new Covid-19 cases were reported. In reality the number is likely to be higher. The positivity rate was nearly 56% on PCR tests, a rate that could suggest that a smaller than average percentage of infections are being picked up.
However, the number of deaths, which tends to lag behind cases and hospitalisations, remained stable at 38 this week, compared to 42 the week before.
Vaccination continues to correlate strongly with favourable outcomes. Only 36% of those entering hospital and only 27% of those dying had received a full course of vaccination including a booster. These numbers are even more significant when the far larger pool of vulnerable vaccinated people is compared to relatively small population of partially or unvaccinated vulnerable folk.
On Wednesday, Alain Berset, Switzerland’s health minister tested positive, reported RTS, forcing him to work from home. Over the last two weeks, around 10 elected officials have tested positive. This has reopened a debate around when remote voting should be allowed, reported RTS.
The novel Corona virus has now been with us for more than two years. Switzerland’s first case was reported on 24 February 2020. Globally, death records attribute around 6 million deaths to the disease, although some excess-death estimates put the total at around 20 million.
Much has changed since. Today there are effective vaccines and many treatments that together significantly reduce disease severity, improve recovery and substantially reduce the chance of death.
In addition, while the Omicron variant is highly infectious and difficult to contain, it also appears to be significantly milder than earlier variants, although this could reflect the impact of immunity from vaccines and past infections. In Hong Kong, where 46% of those over 80 and 30% of those aged 70-79 remain unvaccinated, Covid-19 deaths are running at around 250 per day as the Omicron variant sweeps through the territory. This is a daily death figure above Switzerland’s worst days – Hong Kong has a population of 7.5 million compared to 8.6 million in Switzerland.