Is Switzerland to blame for Europe’s third wave of coronavirus?

Switzerland’s decision to keep its ski slopes open is behind the wave of coronavirus mutations sweeping the continent, Italy’s health experts said.

Is Switzerland to blame for Europe’s third wave of coronavirus?

Italy has laid the blame for the wave of coronavirus mutations sweeping the continent at the feet of Switzerland. 

Walter Ricciardi, the head of the Italian government’s coronavirus task force, said Switzerland’s decision to keep ski slopes open throughout winter allowed the British strain of coronavirus to arrive in Europe. 

“The country that brought the British variant to Europe is Switzerland,” Ricciardi told Italian TV on Sunday, following the government's announcement that Italian ski slopes would stay closed until at least March 5th. 

 “The British went skiing in Switzerland – a country that stubbornly kept the ski facilities open.”

REMINDER: What are the rules for Britons entering Switzerland?

Ricciardi, who is nicknamed “Professor Lockdown” by Italian media, said Italian experts have traced the strains of the virus, which made it clear that the mutated strain arrived in Europe through Switzerland. 

Ricciardi told Italian TV show Che tempo che fa “a teacher on holiday in Switzerland contracted the British variant of the virus and infected practically all of her students when she returned.

From there the variant spread to the rest of Switzerland and Europe”. 

While Switzerland kept most of its ski slopes open throughout winter, each of Switzerland’s neighbours closed their ski resorts for at least part of the season. 

In Germany, France and Italy the slopes remain closed, while in Austria the slopes were closed for most of December. 

In late December, around 300 British tourists “disappeared” from quarantine while on holiday in the Swiss ski resort of Verbier. 

‘You’d laugh if it wasn’t so tragic’: Swiss authorities slammed after Britons escape coronavirus quarantine


Member comments

  1. He is absolutely right. The Swiss have never been serious about covid. They are putting hundreds of teachers at risk despite the British variant spreading. No sign of vaccination for teachers who are vulnerable.

  2. here in Australia, many people are astounded with how the UK and Europe have been holidaying in different countries throughout the pandemic. It sure seems an odd way to keep infections down.

  3. Skiing doesn’t spread the virus! It is human stupidity that carries it. Meetings with friends, dinner parties …

  4. Kris Switzerland has not been trying to keep the number of infections down. The government is more concerned about the economy. I wish our leaders placed human lives and health as priorities before the economy.

  5. Skiing keeps people healthy, in body and mind, in the winter. It doesn’t cause viral spread unless you open crowded apres skis. That’s what I’ve learned in Vermont in the US (sking open all winter, lowest infection rates in the country). I also skied in Montana; they’re making it work, without destroying 1000s of businesses that depend on skiing.

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‘Not offensive’: Italian minister defends Covid testing rule for China arrivals

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani defended the policy of testing all arrivals from China for Covid-19 after Beijing said the policy "lacks scientific basis".

'Not offensive': Italian minister defends Covid testing rule for China arrivals

“It seems perfectly normal to me,” Tajani told Italian state broadcaster Rai on Tuesday. “Having a test is a way to protect people’s health. There is nothing offensive about it.”

“Lots of Chinese and Italians coming from China do it (anyway),” he claimed.

READ ALSO: Is the EU likely to reinstate Covid travel restrictions?

Italy was the first European country to make testing on arrival a requirement for passengers arriving on flights from China last week, after a surge in the infection rate there.

Italian Health Minister Orazio Schillaci said on Wednesday that the screening requirement was “essential to ensure the surveillance and identification of any variants of the virus in order to protect the Italian population”.

READ ALSO: Italy pushes for EU-wide China Covid measures as tests show no new variants

France and Spain have since introduced similar rules (as well as non-EU countries including the UK and USA) and there is now a meeting scheduled for Wednesday of the EU Integrated Policy Response Capability to discuss coordinating measures.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said the screening policy would be “ineffective” if not done on a European level, as only people arriving on direct flights from China were being tested in Italy, not those with stopovers.

But the Chinese government on Tuesday hit out at countries introducing a policy of mandatory testing for people arriving from China.

“Some countries have taken entry restrictions targeting only Chinese travellers,” foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning was quoted as saying at a briefing by AFP.

“This lacks scientific basis and some practices are unacceptable”.

She said Beijing may “take countermeasures based on the principle of reciprocity”.