The spread of Omikron, changes to the quarantine rules and the situation in the hospitals: an overview of the most important findings of the BAG media conference.
Quarantine rules: It is problematic that many people are currently unable to go to work – be it because they are in isolation or quarantine. That says Virginie Masserey, head of the infection control section at the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH). A consultation was therefore carried out to shorten the length of the quarantine – to seven days. The regulation has not yet been adapted. The Federal Council will do this soon.
The quarantine is not effective in the case of a high incidence or infection rate of corona cases and a shortening makes sense from a scientific point of view. Isolation can also be shortened, says Tanja Stadler, President of the National COVID-19 Science Task Force. People with a high virus circulation are no longer very contagious after just a few days. The omicron variant of the coronavirus ensures faster and less severe courses than the delta variant.
Masserey points out that the measures – mask, hygiene rules, contact restrictions – must be complied with: “We must behave as if we had been infected.”
Omicron: According to the BAG, there is likely to be a high number of unreported cases of new infections with the Omikron variant. According to Masserey, the high positivity rate in the tests indicates a significant number of undiscovered cases. In addition, the test and laboratory system is reaching its limits and asymptomatic cases are to be expected.
Tanja Stadler expects the number of infections to rise until between a third and half of the Swiss population are infected. The protection of the recently vaccinated people will be useful against the Omikron variant. Stadler points out that the peak in the number of cases could be reached in about one to three weeks – that is, by the end of January.
The corona pandemic could be over in the summer and life could be reasonably normal. This is the assessment made by Task Force Leader Tanja Stadler. By then, enough people could be immune because they have already been infected or vaccinated.
Situation in the hospitals: After the omicron wave, around 15 to 35 percent will not be protected against the coronavirus. That is why Stadler points out the importance of vaccination. The FOPH expects an increase in hospitalizations over the next few days. Around one person in 10,000 infected people end up in the intensive care unit, Stadler explains. The task force expects several thousand hospital admissions and 80 to 300 additional IPS patients per week.
The incidence in Switzerland is very high, only the UK and a few other countries have higher, says Virginie Masserey. As for the number of hospital admissions, despite the falling numbers, it was impossible to say how things could go on. Above all, those who have not been vaccinated will be admitted. Despite falling numbers, the intensive care units are still heavily used.