This content was published on December 29, 2021 – 09:52

Keystone-SDA / ac

Omicron variant now accounts for over 50% of new Covid-19 cases Keystone / Laurent Gilliéron

Representing 55% of cases, the Omicron variant now represents the majority of Covid-19 infections in Switzerland.

The canton of Ticino, bordering Italy, is particularly affected, but the variant is also spreading quickly to other cantons, public health officials announced on Tuesday.

Omicron spreads faster than the Delta variant, with cases doubling every three to five days. Due to its high contagiousness, the new variant is expected to account for almost all cases soon, health officials said at a press conference.

The course of the infection, however, appears to be milder, but this may be due to some immunization through vaccination, they added.

“In terms of virulence, the Omicron variant appears less strong than Delta but more than Alpha, the first Covid-19 variant that Switzerland has had to deal with,” said Tanja Stadler, chair of the Swiss government’s scientific working group.

Infections in Switzerland continue at a high or very high level, with almost 13,000 new cases per day. The incidence is one of the highest in Europe.

The 20-29 age group is the most affected. Currently, 336 Covid-19 patients are in intensive care, occupying 40% of the available beds.

Lots of unknowns

Some hospitals have reached their limit, but the overall hospital workload is still manageable, authorities say. However, some cantons find it difficult to find all the contact cases because of the sheer number.

The first effects of family reunions during the holiday season will not be felt until early 2022, according to Stadler. Health experts expect infections to rise rapidly in the first weeks of January, reaching 20,000 people per day.

Vaccination does not fully protect against contagion, said Stadler, who also urged people to comply with health measures. In Switzerland, there are currently around 40 cases of people infected with Omicron who have received a booster dose and required hospitalization.

According to current regulations, people who have been cured and doubly vaccinated do not need to self-quarantine if they have been in contact with a person who has tested positive. Experts are considering measures such as extending quarantines for potential carriers and quarantine rules for those vaccinated to contain the pandemic.