Swiss health authorities accused of hiding crucial coronavirus information

Switzerland's Health Minister Alain Berset was accused that he had concealed from his colleagues an alarming report issued last August about the spread of Covid-19 in Switzerland, news wires reported.

The allegedly hidden report was a document from the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), calling for the tightening of coronavirus measures to avoid a second wave. FOPH issued a 12-page document on 6 August, urging the Federal Council to implement a slew of restrictions, Swiss media reported. Among the measures FOPH recommended was the obligatory wearing of masks and the closing of restaurants.

Berset was expected to forward this report to the Federal Council, which he allegedly didn’t do, even though FOPH experts stressed that the restrictions had to be implemented urgently. Kept in the dark, the Federal Council announced the relaxation of certain measures, allowing, for instance, large gatherings from 1 October. Berset himself reportedly urged the Federal Council to loosen the restrictions "after realising that he would not have had a consensus for a longer ban," the media said.

University of Bern’s epidemiologist Christian Althaus said one of the main reasons for the second wave that hit Switzerland in September, was that federal authorities eased the measures in August instead of ordering stricter rules as recommended by FOPH. “This allowed the virus to spread across the country. Contact tracing quickly reached its limits, which probably contributed to the rapid rise of the pandemic", he said.

Once the second wave of outbreaks struck, daily coronavirus cases recorded in Switzerland soared dramatically, almost tripling the highest number of infections registered during the peak of the pandemic in April. 

Berset has not yet responded to the allegations.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

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