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Covid-19: What will summer 2022 look like in Switzerland?

While uncertainties about the evolution of the Omicron variant still remain, improvement on the epidemiological front is on the horizon, a Swiss health expert says.

Health experts predict a more carefree summer ahead. Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva from Pexels
Health experts predict a more carefree summer ahead. Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva from Pexels

Even though the Omicron variant is still very active in Switzerland, health officials believe that Covid pandemic is winding down.

Marcel Tanner, an epidemiologist at University of Basel, said in an interview on Sunday that the situation should stabilise in the summer to the point where some measures “may be necessary only occasionally”.

“If people comply with the measures on their own in certain situations, state health restrictions could be lifted”, he added.

Generalised rules such face masks and the Covid certificate mandate will no longer be necessary in the summer “if we continue to get vaccinated and get booster doses”, according to Tanner.

“All epidemics have shown this so far”, he pointed out in support of his forecast.

Health Minister Alain Berset also said that the need for the Covid certificate “seems to be approaching its end”.

READ MORE: Should Switzerland abolish the Covid certificate?

And Virginie Masserey, head of the infection control section at the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), noted as well that “we can be reasonably optimistic” that the worst of the pandemic is behind us.

Such uplifting prospects may seem unrealistic at the moment, given that nearly 40,000 new coronavirus cases were reported in Switzerland on Friday, January 21st —most Covid infections ever recorded in a single day.

Add to it the undeclared and asymptomatic cases, and the actual number of daily contaminations could  be closer to 100,000, according to Jürg Utzinger, director of the Tropical and Public Health Institute.

So why are health experts fairly optimistic that the pandemic will mostly wane by summer?

They say that while Omicron — which currently accounts for nearly 88 percent of all infections in Switzerland — is still circulating in Switzerland, it is also less virulent than its predecessors Delta and Alpha, especially among the vaccinated population.

With more people contracting Omicron, the level of immunity is growing within the population, signalling the pandemic’s end.

The proof epidemiologists cite is that Switzerland’s healthcare system is holding up relatively well, with fewer Covid patients requiring hospitalisation in ICUs than several weeks ago.

This means that most people infected with Omicron don’t develop severe symptoms and don’t need to be hospitalised.

In fact, a survey conducted by Blick newspaper among hospitals found that virtually all patients admitted to Swiss healthcare facilities have contracted the Delta variant which, though less prevalent than Omicron, is still spreading in Switzerland among the unvaccinated and has more serious side effects.

At Geneva’s University Hospitals (HUG), only two out of 19 Covid patients have Omicron. And the chief physician of the University Hospital of Zurich said that “there are hardly any traces of Omicron in the intensive care unit”.

In Zurich’s two other hospitals, Tremli and Stadspital Waid, none of the seven Covid cases has Omicron.

As for Bern’s Inselspital, “a significant proportion of intensive care patients have been affected by the Delta variant”, spokesperson told Blick.

This provides additional evidence to support the health officials’ contention that Omicron is not as virulent as Delta.

As a matter of fact, many experts believe that while this variant will never completely disappear, it will become a part of the existing viruses, as common as a common cold.

READ MORE: ‘Reasonably optimistic’: Are Switzerland’s Covid hotspots cooling down at last?

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For members


Reader question: Do Swiss still need Covid certificate to travel abroad?

As of February 17th, Switzerland has scrapped the Covid certificate. But what does this mean for travel?

Reader question: Do Swiss still need Covid certificate to travel abroad?

Almost all Covid measures are being relaxed from Thursday, February 17th. 

Covid certificates – which show someone has been vaccinated, recovered or in some cases has tested negative – will no longer be required in restaurants, cinemas or at events. 

Under the framework, individual cantons can still require a Covid certificate for particular events or venues, however as yet no cantons have indicated they will do so. 

Reader question: Which Swiss cantons will keep the Covid certificate in place?

While the Covid certificate may no longer be required in Switzerland, the Swiss government has indicated it will keep the infrastructure in place. 

This will be partially due to a desire to stay prepared in the case of a new variant, but it is primarily so that residents of Switzerland will be able to continue to travel. 

Covid certificates will remain valid and will continue to be issued for the purposes of travel abroad and visiting the EU, the government confirmed on Wednesday.

Existing Covid certificates remain valid for international travel and the EU, provided the underlying reason for the certificate is valid (vaccination, recovery or negative test).

In addition to the EU, individual countries within the EU and countries outside of the EU may also require proof of vaccination, etc, in order to enter. 

Many of the reciprocal arrangements which exist between Switzerland and these countries will remain in place, meaning that your Covid certificate app and the inbuilt QR code is the best way to show compliance with these requirements. 

Keep in mind that if you delete your Covid certificate app, the proof of vaccination or recovery contained within will also be deleted.

To get it back, you will need to again scan in the original documents to prove you have been vaccinated, recovered or tested negative. 

Q&A: Everything you need to know about Switzerland relaxing Covid measures

Can private companies or organisations still require people to show a Covid certificate? 

Yes. Organisations and private companies, for instance nursing homes, nightclubs or bars may continue to demand Covid certificates to protect the health of their patients and patrons. 

This can also happen in state institutions – for instance hospitals – provided this is approved of by the cantonal authorities.