Swiss coronavirus cases highest in four months

GENEVA (AFP) – Switzerland racked up more than 300 new coronavirus cases yesterday for the second time this week, as confirmed infections returned to a level not seen since mid-April.

The wealthy Alpine nation managed to avoid the worst of the pandemic despite bordering Italy, Europe’s early epicentre for deaths and infections.

In mid-March, Switzerland introduced restrictions aimed at halting the spread, though it stopped short of the strict confinement imposed by some of its neighbours.

It eased off its restrictions in gradual stages – but case numbers have been steadily on the rise since late June. “The situation is under control, but remains fragile,” Health Minister Alain Berset said on Thursday.

He flagged a recent “distinct decrease in discipline” from the public, urging people to respect physical distancing and quarantine rules.

The Health Ministry said yesterday 306 new cases had been reported in the previous 24 hours, taking the total number of cases recorded to 39,232 – of which 1,505 have come in the past seven days.

Daily rates peaked at over 1,000 in mid-March before plunging to a few dozen between mid-May and mid-June, but have been steadily increasing since then.