ZURICH (Reuters) -New COVID-19 infections in Switzerland hit a record high of 17,634 within the last 24 hours, figures published on the health authorities’ COVID-19 dashboard showed on Wednesday.
Health Minister Alain Berset said he has spoken with President Guy Parmelin and the head of the regional health directors to discuss the worsening situation and had additional measures at the ready if need be, as hospitalisations are expected to increase.
“Omicron infections are increasing sharply,” Berset said on Twitter. The variant is the dominant strain of COVID-19 in Switzerland, making up 58% of cases.
“The next package of measures – including closures – is ready,” Berset added. “The government can decide quickly when more accurate data on the dangerousness of Omicron is available.”
Berset also renewed calls for people to be vaccinated and get booster jabs. Switzerland has one of the lowest vaccination rates in western Europe, with 67% of its 8.6 million population fully vaccinated.
Overall, almost 1.3 million people in Switzerland and Liechtenstein have been infected with the virus since the pandemic took hold in February 2020.
The government earlier this month tightened pandemic restrictions but stopped short of a limited lockdown.
(Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz and John RevillEditing by Gareth Jones and Barbara Lewis)