Swiss to lift last of COVID-19 restrictions from April 1

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People queue at a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) tests tent at the Stadtspital Triemli hospital in Zurich, Switzerland January 13, 2022. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

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ZURICH, March 30 (Reuters) - Switzerland will lift the last of its remaining COVID-19 restrictions from Friday, the government said on Wednesday, as the country seeks to live with the virus.

The obligation to wear a mask on public transport and at health facilities, as well as the requirement to self-isolate for five days after a positive test will be removed, the government said.

Responsibility for containing the virus will be handed to local authorities, it added, with a phase of heightened vigilance planned over the next 12 months.

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"Thanks to the high level of immunization of the population, there has been no marked increase in the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units in recent weeks, although the number of infections has risen again in the meantime," the government said in a statement.

"There is little likelihood of a public health threat in the coming months. However, the further course of the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be reliably estimated."

The coronavirus will most likely not disappear, the government said, but become endemic with seasonal waves of the virus likely in the future.

The government said it would also temporarily deactivate the Swiss COVID app which identifies people who have had close contact with others who have been infected with the coronavirus.

Swiss infections have remained at a high level in recent days, with more than 16,462 new cases reported on Wednesday, although only 165 people needed hospital treatment.

After a slow start, 69% of the country's 8.6 million people is fully vaccinated.

So far, 3.48 million people - or 41% of the country's population - have reported cases, while 13,060 people have died.

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Reporting by John Revill Editing by Paul Carrel

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