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World News

Swiss deploy army again to help hospitals handle pandemic

FILE PHOTO: Hospital staff treat a patient suffering from the coronavirus disease in the acute care unit of the University Hospital (HUG) as Switzerland enters a second wave of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Geneva, Switzerland, October 27, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

ZURICH (Reuters) - The Swiss government on Wednesday authorised deploying up to 2,500 military personnel to help the country’s hard-pressed health care system handle a second wave of coronavirus infections.

This marked the second time this year the army has rolled out to support hospitals as they treat and transport patients. New infections surpassed 10,000 in a day on Wednesday, threatening to overwhelm the health care system.

“With the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of cases is rising sharply and with it - with a delay of one to two weeks - the number of hospitalisations and patients in intensive care units. Since Tuesday, 27 October 2020, several cantons have submitted requests for military support,” the government said after a cabinet meeting.

It also gave the green light to distribute 350 million Swiss francs ($384 million) in grants and loans to professional and semi-professional sports clubs hit by the pandemic, and said it was ready to consider more help now that big events were taking place without spectators in a bid to slow the disease’s spread.

($1 = 0.9117 Swiss francs)

Reporting by Michael Shields

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