If you want to buy groceries in Austria from tomorrow, you have to wear a mask in the supermarket. «The less sneezing and coughing, the lower the risk. Every form of mouth covering helps here, »Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (33) explains the mouth protection obligation decided by his government.
In Switzerland, such a measure for the completion of purchases is at least waiting for the time being. IG Retail, which represents large chain stores such as Migros, Coop and Denner, continues to play the ball at the Federal Office of Public Health (BAG). Should this order the wearing of masks, this will of course also be implemented. Not previously.
However, there is no hint of an acceptance of the Austrian mouthguard obligation. “This measure is currently not planned in Switzerland,” says Daniel Koch (64), head of the communicable diseases department at the Federal Office of Public Health (BAG). In general, he was careful not to comment on the measures in other countries with regard to their quality.
According to the BAG there is no evidence of the effect of masks
Koch’s announcement: “There is still no reliable evidence that wearing the mask in public is a greater protective factor!” It is therefore more important that the population consistently implement the other measures, such as social distancing, the effects of which are undisputed.
The BAG is thus turning at least towards the outside. Still In the 2018 pandemic plan, the federal government attached great importance to wearing hygiene masks. According to the document, studies have shown that masks have “a certain protective effect”. O-Ton: “Also from the experience with Sars in 2003 and with an outbreak of influenza at the Geneva University Hospital in 2012, there are indications that the transmission of viruses can be restricted by hygiene masks.”
The 2018 pandemic plan therefore calls on the hospitals to build up mask stores of four and a half months. The Swiss population is advised to also store 50 hygiene masks per person in their own emergency supply. The enthusiasm for wearing masks is low. But: “However, this can change quickly under other conditions (increasing threat situation, use of hygiene masks in nearby countries).”
Sufficient supplies – but only for medical professionals
The BAG planning of that time made the large-scale use of hygiene masks dependent on various factors – including availability. And this is precisely what is lacking. “There are enough masks in Switzerland at the moment,” Daniel Koch emphasizes. Not for the general population, of course, but in order to provide medical professionals with sufficient supplies.
According to its own statements, the federal government only has around 17 million protective masks in its own camps. The creation of additional stocks and medication are high on the BAG’s “shopping list”, but recently imports of medical goods have increasingly stuck to national borders.
The new regulation also causes headaches in Austria: The managing director of the trade association estimates the daily needs of our neighbors at four million pieces – with one use! A nationwide supply could certainly not be guaranteed at the beginning.
Too little capacity in Switzerland
In Switzerland too, more and more private individuals are beginning to sew their own do-it-yourself masks. According to popular expert opinion, every means is right to reduce the risks of a droplet infection.
The industry also wants to follow suit: in mid-April, Flawa Solutions, the first protective mask manufacturer in Switzerland, is to start production in Flawil SG. However, the planned capacity of 64,000 copies per day shows impressively that this is just a drop in the ocean.
Unlike in Asian countries (such as South Korea), collective face mask wear in Switzerland cannot be an option to curb the spread of the virus and to escape the economically devastating lockdown more quickly. Other measures will probably have to fix it.