Swiss cabinet tightens coronavirus curbs to protect hospitals

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ZURICH, Sept 8 (Reuters) – Switzerland will tighten curbs on public life from Monday by requiring people to show a COVID-status certificate to access indoor spaces like restaurants, the government said on Wednesday, trying to quash a fourth wave of infections that is straining hospitals.

The Swiss COVID certificate provides proof of vaccination, recovery from infection or a negative test result.

The government last week had held fire on the move — set to last into January 2022 — amid a sharp public debate over whether it was going too far to infringe individuals’ liberty.

“The situation in the hospitals remains tense, the intensive care units are very busy. In some cantons, operations are being postponed and in some cases patients are being transferred to other hospitals,” the cabinet said, noting the number of people who had not been vaccinated was still too high.

The number of new infections in Switzerland and tiny neighbour Liechtenstein has picked up again to become the highest incidence rate in continental Europe, health officials said on Tuesday.

More than 800,000 have contracted the respiratory disease since the pandemic began. The death toll has exceeded 10,500.

Just over half the Swiss population has been fully vaccinated, lagging the rate in other European countries as the government tries to persuade more people to get the jab. 

Photo: A medical worker treats a patient with COVID-19 in a Covid-19 unit at the University Hospital in Lausanne, Switzerland. EPA-EFE/LAURENT GILLIERON