First probable case of the omicron variant announced in Switzerland

FOPH announced on Twitter on Sunday a first probable case of the Omicron variant in Switzerland in a person who returned from South Africa about a week ago. “The sequencing will bring certainties in the coming days”, specifies only the FOPH on the social network. Contacted by Keystone-ATS, the OFSP declares that it will inform “as soon as the result is available”.

The worrying new variant of the coronavirus has sparked concerns, anti-Covid measures and calls for vaccinations in Europe and elsewhere over the weekend.

“Save Christmas”

Omicron is spreading rapidly, cases were confirmed in Belgium on Thursday, then announcements followed in Germany, Italy, the UK and the Czech Republic later in the week. For Guy Parmelin, now it is “to vaccinate even more and even faster”, he assured in the SonntagsZeitung and NZZ am Sonntag. According to the Waldensians, the booster dose is also very important for people vaccinated more than six months ago.

On this subject, Richard Neher, a member of the Confederation task force, goes further and proposes reducing the period of the booster dose from six to four or five months. Otherwise, many people in Switzerland will not be able to receive a 3rd vaccine before the end of the year, he explained to SonntagsZeitung.

Given that new infections are already at a high level, it is not enough to contain the increase. A drop is necessary and for that we need other measures, he stressed. If the population receives the maximum number of boosters in the next three weeks, he says, we can “save Christmas”.

At the NZZ am Sonntag, task force head Tanja Stadler also called on Switzerland to act. “If it is not yet possible to assess the danger of the new variant, we know that it has infected cured or vaccinated people.” Switzerland has a window of opportunity that it should use to prepare.

Measures for travelers

In interviews with German-language weeklies, Confederacy President Guy Parmelin also insists that people who have recently returned from South Africa, the country where the new variant was first detected on Thursday, be quarantined. In turn, the Federal Secretariat of Public Health (OFSP) demanded a preventive measure along the same lines on Saturday.

Travelers from 19 other countries must now present a negative Covid-19 test on both departure and arrival and undergo a 10-day quarantine upon arrival in Switzerland, according to the list updated Sunday night by the Federal Department of the Interior. have appeared since midnight on Sunday Australia, Denmark, Angola and Zambia. The measure previously applied in particular to the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Egypt.

Passengers from South Africa who disembarked at Zurich airport on Saturday had to undergo a similar regime. Passengers on the Swiss flight from Johannesburg, who needed to be vaccinated, cured or tested negative to board, were told via an English text message from FOPH after takeoff that they would have to self-quarantine.

Travelers from Botswana, Swaziland, Hong Kong, Israel, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa are prohibited from entering the territory. The Swiss and people with a residence permit are, however, exempt from this ban.

repatriation flights

Passenger data for this flight was simultaneously transmitted to the cantons to enable quarantine and screening control. Any positive cases in the PCR tests will be subject to more accurate analysis in relation to the Omicron variant. In addition to this Swiss airline’s Johannesburg-Zurich flight, only authorized repatriation flights from southern Africa will still be able to land in Switzerland, FOPH said.

The first case of the Omicron variant in Europe was identified in Belgium. In the space of a weekend, the variant spread to several European countries such as Great Britain, Germany and Italy. The announcements followed one another to the rhythm of the hours.

The World Health Organization (WHO) classified this new variant as “worrying”. It would present an increased risk of contagion compared to other variants, including Delta, which is already very contagious. Omicron also established itself in regions where the Delta variant was predominant.

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