Swiss start relaxing pandemic measures


A skier wearing a protective face mask stands in the cable car amid coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic at the Glacier 3000 ski resort in Les Diablerets, Switzerland, December 22, 2021. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

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ZURICH, Feb 2 (Reuters) – Switzerland on Wednesday began easing coronavirus pandemic restrictions as fears waned that a spike in infections fuelled by the Omicron variant would overwhelm the health care system.

Quarantine rules and a work-from-home order will end on Thursday, the government said. It proposed further easing measures in consultations with regional authorities to run until Feb. 9. A final decision on how to proceed is due on Feb. 16.

“The government has noted a positive development in the hospitals – despite record high infection figures, there has been no overloading and the occupancy of intensive care units has decreased further,” it said in a statement.

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“The reason for this is probably the high immunity of the population due to vaccination and earlier illnesses.”

The Omicron variant of COVID-19, though highly transmissible, is less likely to cause severe cases compared with earlier viral variants, it added.

“There are increasing signs that the acute crisis will soon be over and the endemic phase can begin,” the government said.

It will lift the requirement for people who have come into close contact with an infected individual to quarantine for five days, saying the high numbers of infections had made the measure lose its importance. Those who tested positive for the virus would still need to go into isolation for five days.

Just over 41,000 new cases were reported in Switzerland on Wednesday, taking the total to 2.29 million cases since the start of the crisis in early 2020. So far 12,403 people have died from the coronavirus in the country and neighbouring principality Liechtenstein.

(This story corrects paragraph 7 to reflect quarantine measures lifted for close contacts of individuals infected with COVID-19, while self-isolation for those tested positive will remain in place)

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Reporting by Michael Shields and John Revill, editing by Mark Heinrich

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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