Switzerland hit by 'very worrying' fourth COVID-19 wave

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Guests sit outside of a restaurant, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in the old town of Zurich, May 22, 2021. Picture taken May 22, 2021. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

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ZURICH, Aug 24 (Reuters) - Switzerland is being hit by a fourth wave of the coronavirus with a "very worrying" rise in infections, the head of the government's crisis team at the Federal Office for Public Health said on Tuesday.

The number of new infections has hovered between 2,500 and 3,000 per day recently, close to the level of the third wave earlier this year, Patrick Mathys said.

"The current situation should be seen as unfavourable and to some extent very worrying," Mathys told a press conference in Bern. "We have to describe the current situation as the fourth wave."

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The number of new infections rose by 2,993 on Tuesday, taking the total number to 761,978 since the pandemic began. The government also reported six more deaths, taking the death toll to 10,461.

Mathys said he was concerned about hospitals and the low level of vaccinations.

Around 56% of the population have had at least one dose and 50% have had two. The vast majority of COVID-19 hospitalisations were of people who had not been vaccinated, Mathys said.

"The stagnating vaccination figures do not indicate that the situation could ease in the foreseeable future," Mathys said. "The proportion of the non-immune population is still far too large."

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Reporting by John Revill; Editing by Nick Macfie

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