Mass Testing Underway in Three Swiss Ski Resorts

Villars, Les Diablerets and Leysin in the Vaud canton are offering free testing to anyone over 12-years old including non-residents. It comes as the February holidays approach.

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The tests began in Villars on Friday and have now moved on to Les Diablerets.

In the first 400 tests in Villars four people were positive for coronavirus.

The authorities say one of the aims is to “save the ski season”.

Ski resorts have been targeted because “they are going to see a lot of mixing of people in the next few weeks,” said the leader of the Vaud government, Nuria Gorrite.

“We want to avoid the virus being transported from one place to another. What the resorts need least is to become national clusters.”

It is a preventive approach which aims to reassure tourists and locals.

The test centre teams are made up of around 37 people from Civil Protection and specialists from the tracing centre.

840 people per day can be tested and no appointment is necessary.

The results are sent by text message approximately 15 minutes after the test.

“By quickly identifying people who test positive, even if they are asymptomatic, the tracing teams will be able to order them to self-isolate and quarantine to break the virus’s chain of transmission,” said a statement from the Vaud canton.

“These measures, in addition to those already in effect for the whole of the population, are aimed at allowing facilities to remain open.

“The upcoming half-term break is essential to the economic health of mountain resorts, and providers of tourist services need, as far as possible, to be able to work. ”

The first phase of testing started in Villars on Friday 5th and continued to Sunday 7th February.

The mobile test centre continues in Les Diablerets from Monday to Wednesday and then moves on to Leysin on Thursday.

Other regions and ski resorts have already embarked on mass testing.

These include resorts in the canton of Graubunden and the resort of Wengen in canton Bern.

Rates in Switzerland stabilised last month but the country is still seeing 126 cases per 100,000 pf population over a 7-day period.

That compares to 214 in France, 136 in Italy, 107 in Austria and 85 in Germany.

The R-rate in Switzerland climbed above 1 for the first time in two months last Wednesday.

Patrick Mathys from the Federal Office of Public Health said the reason was a delay in the way the R-rate is recorded.

“The R value relates to a situation from 10 days ago. The same goes for the reported cases every day,” he said.

“That means for the next few days we should expect a stabilisation or even a slight increase in the number of cases.”

It is now above 1 in the western cantons of Valais, Jura, Vaud, Geneva and Freibourg with up to 40% of cases being the UK variant.

Heath officials expect the figure to rise across the country.

The spread of the virus slowed in January.

On February 1, the seven-day average stood at 1,630.

There were 3,775 new cases over the previous 72 hours, as well as 78 deaths and 161 people were hospitalised according to the Federal Office of Public Health.

A recent survey gave the public’s view on the pandemic.

The authorities say there are no planned tightening of measures but the situation remains under constant review.

Interior Minister, Alain Berset, said that Switzerland is unlikely to ease its anti-Covid restrictions before the end of February amid fears of new strains of the virus.

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