ZURICH/GENEVA (Reuters) - Switzerland reported another daily record of 3,105 new coronavirus cases on Friday as a second wave of infection gripped the country.
The public health agency reported a total of 74,422 confirmed cases in Switzerland and neighbouring principality Liechtenstein. The death toll rose by five people to 1,823.
Since phasing out most emergency measures in June, the country of 8.6 million people has so far held off from new nationwide restrictions, urging residents to follow existing social distancing and hygiene guidelines.
Switzerland has added to its list of places from which travellers must enter quarantine, while neighbouring Germany warned against visiting 10 Swiss cantons.
Rudolf Hauri, president of the Swiss cantonal doctors association, said he feared the infection rate could rise to 4,000 cases per day.
Although Swiss hospitals can cope with the current level, their capacities to absorb new patients could soon be stretched, he told the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper.
"The situation with new infections is clearly very serious," he said. "I suspect we will see a sharp increase in hospitalisations over the next two weeks."
Jerome Pugin, head of the intensive care unit of Geneva University Hospital (HUG), told Swiss public broadcasting on Thursday night:
"We have to have the courage to use the phrase 'second wave'. There is a lot of talk about positive cases, what we also see is a doubling, tripling and quadrupling of the number of hospitalisations here at the HUG and patients are starting to come back into intensive care."
Switzerland signed a contract for up to 5.3 million doses of a potential COVID-19 vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, the government said https://www.admin.ch/gov/en/start/documentation/media-releases.msg-id-80732.html .
Hauri thought safety measures could be expanded but a new nationwide lockdown could be avoided.
"I assume that the mask requirement will be expanded, a home office recommendation will be made and private events will be regulated more strictly," he said. "I think that's sensible."
(Reporting by John Revill amd Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Alison Williams and Michael Shields)