Spain Beat Switzerland On Penalties To Reach Euro 2020 Semi-Finals

Spain's players celebrate after winning during the UEFA EURO 2020 quarter-final football match between Switzerland and Spain at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on July 2, 2021. MAXIM SHEMETOV / POOL / AFP
Spain’s players celebrate after winning during the UEFA EURO 2020 quarter-final football match between Switzerland and Spain at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on July 2, 2021.
MAXIM SHEMETOV / POOL / AFP

 

Goalkeeper Unai Simon was the hero as Spain edged past 10-man Switzerland 3-1 on penalties on Friday to set up a Euro 2020 semi-final against either Belgium or Italy.

After a 1-1 draw in Saint Petersburg which saw the Swiss play for 43 minutes a man down, Simon made two saves in the shoot-out to help keep Spain’s bid for a record fourth European crown alive.

“Football was just there. We are deserved winners,” said Simon, who made an embarrassing error in the 5-3 last-16 win over Croatia.

“Just like we had to erase the memory of that mistake in the last match, it’s time to quickly forget this triumph because we face a tough rival in the next match.”

It was heartbreak for Switzerland, who were bidding for reach the semi-finals of a major tournament for the first time in their history.

Spain forged ahead early on when Denis Zakaria put through his own net, but Switzerland were the better side for long periods and Xherdan Shaqiri, standing in for the suspended Granit Xhaka as captain, equalised in the 68th minute.

The Swiss were reduced to 10 men with 13 minutes remaining, though, when midfielder Remo Freuler was controversially dismissed for a tackle on Gerard Moreno.

Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer, the hero of the penalty shoot-out win over world champions France in the last 16, made a string of fine saves in extra time.

But Simon saved from Fabian Schaer and Manuel Akanji, while Ruben Vargas blazed over in a tense finale as Spain snuck through, with Mikel Oyarzabal smashing home the winning spot-kick.

Luis Enrique’s men will take on either Belgium or Italy, who meet in Munich later Friday, at Wembley on Tuesday.

“We have to go into the semi-final fresh, confident and with our heads high. We have to win the Euro now,” added Athletic Bilbao’s Simon.

After scoring 10 goals in their previous two matches, this was a return to the type of profligate performances which saw Spain draw their first two group games against Sweden and Poland.

But the 2008 and 2012 winners had made a dream start to this quarter-final, taking the lead in fortunate circumstances in only the eighth minute.

A corner was cleared only as far as Jordi Alba, whose left-footed volley was diverted past Sommer by Switzerland midfielder Zakaria, only playing in place of Xhaka.

It was the 10th own goal of Euro 2020, more than the other 15 editions combined.

Alvaro Morata wasted an excellent opportunity by heading too close to Sommer when unmarked, but then Switzerland started to grow into the game.

Switzerland had a brilliant chance for a leveller in the 64th minute, as Shaqiri sparked a quick counter-attack which ended with Simon reacting well to keep out Steven Zuber’s stabbed effort at his near post.

Shaqiri strikes

But the underdogs found the equaliser they deserved four minutes later, as Freuler latched onto a loose ball after a mix-up in the Spanish defence and squared for Shaqiri to slot into the far corner and score his third goal of the tournament.

The pattern of the game changed in the 77th minute though, when referee Michael Oliver gave Freuler his marching orders for a sliding challenge on Spanish substitute Moreno.

Switzerland managed to keep Spain at bay until the end of normal time with relative ease, but in the third minute of the additional half an hour Moreno should have put Spain back in front, only to miskick Alba’s cross wide from close range.

Switzerland were perhaps lucky not to have another man sent off shortly afterwards, when Silvan Widmer escaped a second yellow card for a cynical foul on Dani Olmo.

Moreno somehow passed up another golden opportunity, denied at point-blank range by Sommer, before the Borussia Moenchengladbach stopper made an excellent diving save from Oyarzabal.

Sommer made eight saves in extra time alone, but his one in the shoot-out from Rodri was not enough, despite Sergio Busquets also hitting the post, as Switzerland missed three of their four penalties.

 

AFP

England Face Germany In Euro 2020 Blockbuster After France Make Shock Exit

England’s defender Kyle Walker (C) takes part in an MD-1 training session at the team’s base camp in St George’s Park in Burton-on-Trent, on June 28, 2021, on the eve of their UEFA EURO 2020 round of 16 football match against Germany. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)

 

 

England can avenge decades of hurt at the hands of Germany when they face their old rivals in a blockbuster Euro 2020 last-16 clash on Tuesday after the tournament was rocked by France’s stunning exit.

Gareth Southgate’s side host Germany at Wembley at 1600 GMT in what is England’s biggest match on home turf for 25 years.

England beat the Germans to win the 1966 World Cup final, but their major tournament history has been littered with painful exits against them since then.

 

Germany supporters pose before the UEFA EURO 2020 round of 16 football match between France and Switzerland at the National Arena in Bucharest on June 28, 2021. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / various sources / AFP)

 

A quarter-final loss at the 1970 World Cup ended England’s reign as champions, while the 1990 World Cup semi-final defeat on penalties is still etched in the nation’s psyche.

When England last played at home in a tournament, Southgate was the Euro 96 fall guy as he missed a crucial penalty in the semi-final shoot-out defeat.

There was also a heavy defeat at the 2010 World Cup yet Southgate, aware of the debilitating weight of that history, insists the tie is not a chance to exorcise the ghosts of past England failures.

Instead, he believe it is a chance for his players to add a memorable new chapter to their personal stories.

“This team, I’ve said for a long time, have had so many unique achievements and my focus is on this team and helping them to succeed,” Southgate said.

“This is about our players. This is their moment and it’s their opportunity.”

– ‘Loser goes home’ –
Asked if perhaps his Euro 96 pain would give his players extra motivation to win it for him, Southgate said: “Good grief, no. I don’t think we’ll be relying on that!

“So, no, this is about them. This is about them having a chance to achieve something, and certainly not for me to take any shine off of that.”

England have never won the European Championship and a victory against Germany would be only their second knockout stage win in the history of the competition.

In contrast, Germany have been crowned kings of Europe three times, with the most recent success coming in 1996.

However, Germany travelled to London in the unusual position of fearing defeat against England.

Joachim Loew’s team stumbled into the last 16 after rescuing a 2-2 draw against Hungary in their final group game.

Germany are not the intimidating force of old and, with Loew stepping down at the end of the tournament, a defeat would signal the end of an era.

Despite winning the World Cup in 2014, Loew has been criticised for his role in a humiliating group-stage exit from the 2018 World Cup and a series of poor results before the Euro.

“All in all, I thought about it for two seconds,” said Loew ahead of potentially his last game.

“This is my passion. My whole focus is on the match and I hope we will succeed.”

England will have the vast majority of a 40,000 crowd on their side at Wembley and Loew expects a spine-tingling encounter.

“This is a match which electrifies everybody. For both teams, it’s in or out, it’s now or never, the loser goes home,” he said.

The winner will face a quarter-final in Rome against the winner of Tuesday’s late tie between Sweden and Ukraine, which will be played in Glasgow.

 

TOPSHOT – France’s forward Kylian Mbappe (L) reacts to his miss as Switzerland’s goalkeeper Yann Sommer celebrates his save during the UEFA EURO 2020 round of 16 football match between France and Switzerland at the National Arena in Bucharest on June 28, 2021. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / POOL / AFP)

 

France’s forward Kylian Mbappe reacts after missing a penalty in the penalty shootout during the UEFA EURO 2020 round of 16 football match between France and Switzerland at the National Arena in Bucharest on June 28, 2021. (Photo by Justin Setterfield / POOL / AFP)

 

– Mbappe misses decisive penalty –
Whatever happens on Tuesday it will struggle to live up to the drama of Monday, when world champions France suffered a stunning defeat against Switzerland, losing 5-4 on penalties after a thrilling 3-3 draw in Bucharest as Kylian Mbappe missed the vital kick.

France trailed to Haris Seferovic’s first-half header and could have fallen further behind when Ricardo Rodriguez’s 55th-minute penalty was saved by Hugo Lloris.

Karim Benzema scored twice in 244 seconds immediately after that miss to put France ahead.

Paul Pogba increased their lead with a stunning strike, but Seferovic struck again in the 81st minute and Mario Gavranovic equalised in stoppage time.

Yann Sommer was Switzerland’s hero in the shootout as the goalkeeper saved Mbappe’s penalty to seal an incredible giant-killing.

“Penalties are always cruel for one team and unfortunately it was us,” said France coach Didier Deschamps.

“We are not used to it, but we will have to accept it.”

 

Switzerland’s goalkeeper Yann Sommer reacts after saving a shot by France’s forward Kylian Mbappe in the penalty shootout during the UEFA EURO 2020 round of 16 football match between France and Switzerland at the National Arena in Bucharest on June 28, 2021. (Photo by Justin Setterfield / POOL / AFP)

 

In the quarter-finals, Switzerland face Spain, who hit back for an epic 5-3 extra-time win against Croatia after blowing the lead in Copenhagen.

Pablo Sarabia, Cesar Azpilicueta and Ferran Torres netted to put Spain 3-1 ahead with 13 minutes left after Pedri’s own goal had given Croatia the lead.

Mislav Orsic and Mario Pasalic scored in the last five minutes to force extra time, but Spain prevailed thanks to goals from Alvaro Morata and Mikel Oyarzabal.

Wales Secure Crucial Win As Italy Eye Euro 2020 Knockouts

Wales’ midfielder Aaron Ramsey celebrates after scoring his opening goal next to Turkey’s goalkeeper Ugurcan Cakir during the UEFA EURO 2020 Group A football match between Turkey and Wales at the Olympic Stadium in Baku on June 16, 2021. (Photo by VALENTYN OGIRENKO / POOL / AFP) 

 

 

Wales took a big step towards the Euro 2020 knockout phase on Wednesday with a 2-0 victory over Turkey in Baku, before rejuvenated Italy look to seal their place in the last 16 with victory against Switzerland.

After drawing 1-1 with the Swiss in their opening Group A game, Wales now have four points from two matches after goals from Aaron Ramsey and Connor Roberts saw off a disappointing Turkey.

“You’d like to think so, but we’ll have to wait and see,” said Wales captain Gareth Bale when asked if his team had done enough to get through.

“If you’d offered us four points at the start we would’ve bitten your hand off.”

Senol Gunes’ side, roared on by the majority of the crowd in Azerbaijan, have lost both of their games without scoring and face a mountain to climb if they are to qualify.

 

Wales’ coach Robert Page celebrates his team’s victory at the end of the UEFA EURO 2020 Group A football match between Turkey and Wales at the Olympic Stadium in Baku on June 16, 2021. (Photo by VALENTYN OGIRENKO / POOL / AFP)

 

Wales, semi-finalists five years ago, should have won more convincingly, but wasted several chances including a second-half penalty which was blazed over by Bale.

Up to 4,000 Turkish fans travelled for the game, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but Wales immediately were on the front foot and Ramsey wasted two excellent chances early on.

He made no mistake three minutes before the break, though, chesting down Bale’s pass and slotting home.

Bale, whose future at Real Madrid is uncertain, won a penalty just after the hour mark but was uncharacteristically wayward from the spot.

Merih Demiral, left on the bench after his own goal in Turkey’s 3-0 loss to Italy last week, almost made amends as a substitute in the 87th minute but was denied by an excellent save from Welsh goalkeeper Danny Ward.

Robert Page’s Wales grabbed the second goal their performance deserved in stoppage time, as Bale danced through and teed up Roberts to sweep into the net.

– Italy bid to book last-16 spot –
Roberto Mancini’s Italy were impressive in their first outing and, with home advantage in Rome, will be confident of securing qualification for the knockout phase.

The 1968 European champions, on a 28-match unbeaten run, have a rich international pedigree and are desperate to atone for the humiliation of failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

“The strength of this Italy? It’s the group,” said forward Lorenzo Insigne.

“The coach has created a great group. No one is assured of a place.

“Whoever plays knows what we have to do, to put ourselves at the service of each other.”

In the first match of the day, Russia defeated neighbours Finland 1-0 in Saint Petersburg courtesy of Aleksei Miranchuk’s goal just before half-time to pick up their first points in Group B.

It blows open the section after Russia lost 3-0 to Belgium in their opening game at the weekend. Finland had beaten Denmark 1-0 in Copenhagen on Saturday, a game completely overshadowed by Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest.

 

Wales supporters celebrate their victory at the end of the UEFA EURO 2020 Group A football match between Turkey and Wales at the Olympic Stadium in Baku on June 16, 2021. (Photo by TOLGA BOZOGLU / POOL / AFP)

 

– Germany under pressure –
On Tuesday, a Mats Hummels own goal proved enough for 2018 World Cup winners France to beat Germany 1-0 in a blockbuster Group F match in Munich on Tuesday.

France deserved the win, with both Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema having second-half goals disallowed for offside calls while Adrien Rabiot also hit the post for Les Bleus.

“It’s our first match, but this is a game that could have been a semi-final or a final and to take these three points in a group like this was important,” France coach Didier Deschamps told broadcaster M6.

Germany’s opening defeat in the “Group of Death” turns up the pressure on coach Joachim Loew, who is taking charge of a tournament for the last time.

“It’s up to us to crank things up in the next two or three days,” said Loew. “We have to look to improve, because we need a goal or two.”

Germany’s next game is against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Euro 2016 winners, who got off to the perfect start by beating Hungary 3-0 in Budapest.

Ronaldo marked the occasion by netting his 10th and 11th European Championship goals, surpassing the record of nine he shared with France legend Michel Platini.

The 36-year-old Juventus forward has now scored in five different European Championship finals and has 106 goals for his country, leaving him just three away from matching Iranian Ali Daei’s all-time international scoring record of 109.

Switzerland Votes On Pesticides Ban

 

 

Switzerland votes Sunday on proposals to ban synthetic pesticides following a campaign that has shattered the idyllic image of peaceful Swiss Alpine pastures by sharply dividing opinion.

The Swiss are also voting on a series of hot topics, including anti-terror measures and Covid-19 laws.

Polling stations close at 1000 GMT, with most people having voted by post. Results will be known before the end of the day.

Voters must decide whether they approve a Covid-19 law that extends government powers to fight the pandemic and mitigate its consequences on society and the economy.

But the two anti-pesticide proposals have triggered the most noise, in an electoral campaign marked by fiery debates between farmers.

The campaign boiled over in the western Vaud region when arsonists torched a trailer in a field displaying banners calling for a “No” vote, infuriating farmers.

Meanwhile farmers in the “Yes” campaign say they have been the victims of insults, threats and intimidation.

The first popular initiative, entitled “For a Switzerland free from synthetic pesticides”, calls for a domestic ban within 10 years, while imported foodstuffs produced using such pesticides would also be outlawed.

Under the second, “For clean drinking water and healthy food”, only farms that do not use pesticides and use antibiotics only to treat sick animals would be eligible for government subsidies.

The amount of liquid manure being used on fields, and thereby potentially entering the water system, would also be limited.

Environmentalists and the political left back both initiatives.

The Swiss government wants a double “No” vote, arguing the proposals would undermine national food sovereignty.

Switzerland is also home to Syngenta, one of the largest manufacturers of plant protection products, which was bought by the Chinese giant ChemChina in 2017.

Though urban voters are largely in favour, and rural voters seem set to vote “No”, polls indicate that both proposals are likely to be rejected.

– Tight fight on CO2 –

Under Switzerland’s direct democracy system, referendums and popular votes occur every few months at national, regional and local levels.

Any idea from the public can be put to a national vote as long as it gathers 100,000 signatures from the 8.6 million population.

Meanwhile, 50,000 signatures are needed to trigger a referendum on new laws agreed by parliament.

Environmental protection is also at stake in a referendum on new carbon dioxide laws.

The law would use tax policy to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent of 1990 levels by 2030 — including financial incentives to install charging points for electric vehicles and to market vehicles that consume less fuel.

It would also increase the tax on fuel oil and natural gas, as well as introduce a tax on outbound flight tickets.

Opponents say the measures will be expensive and mainly affect people on low and middle incomes.

Polls suggest the outcome hangs in the balance.

– Terror and human rights –

A clear majority, however, is expected to back extending police powers to combat terrorism, despite warnings from the United Nations and Amnesty International.

The law allows the police to take preventative action more easily when faced with a “potential terrorist”.

If police believe that someone over the age of 12 is contemplating violent actions, the law allows them to conduct greater surveillance, limit their movements and oblige them to face questioning.

And with a court order, they can also place anyone over the age of 15 under house arrest for up to nine months.

Left-wing opponents of the law believe it endangers Switzerland’s human rights heritage.

The country has so far been spared the large-scale attacks seen in European neighbours, but the authorities nonetheless insist the threat level is high.

The referendum on Covid-19 laws seems set to pass comfortably.

Any emergency measures introduced by the government — as with its moves to combat the pandemic — are time-limited and therefore need firming up if they are to continue.

The laws also regulate financial aid granted to individuals and businesses, including compensation for loss of income, and support for cultural organisations.

Swiss Say More Data Needed On AstraZeneca Vaccine

A nurse draws Covishield, AstraZeneca's Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine made by India's Serum Institute, at the Baruipur sub-divisional hospital on the outskirts of Kolkata on January 18, 2021. Dibyangshu SARKAR / AFP
A nurse draws Covishield, AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine made by India’s Serum Institute, at the Baruipur sub-divisional hospital on the outskirts of Kolkata on January 18, 2021.
Dibyangshu SARKAR / AFP

 

 

Swiss regulators said Wednesday that data submitted by AstraZeneca were not yet sufficient for it to authorise use of the Anglo-Swedish firm’s COVID-19 vaccine and “new studies” were needed.

The Swissmedic regulatory authority said it had been examining information from AstraZeneca but that it was “not yet sufficient to permit authorisation”.

“To obtain more information about safety, efficacy and quality, additional data from new studies are needed,” it said in a statement.

Switzerland has so far given the green light to Covid-19 vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

It had been expected to authorise the AstraZeneca jab soon, after the neighbouring European Union last week gave the vaccine the go-ahead.

But while the EU granted approval for use in all people over the age of 18, several European countries have advised against giving the jabs to people over 65, citing lack of evidence that it was effective among the elderly.

Swissmedic said a meeting of its external advisory body on Tuesday had confirmed its interim assessment of the AstraZeneca vaccine data.

“The data currently available do not point to a positive decision regarding benefits and risks,” it said.

“To obtain a conclusive assessment, the applicant will among other things have to submit additional efficacy data from a Phase 3 trial under way in North and South America, and these will have to be analysed.

“As soon as the results have been received, a temporary authorisation according to the rolling procedure could be issued at very short notice,” it added.

A spokesperson for AstraZeneca meanwhile stressed in an email that the company’s jab had already been granted emergency use authorisation “in close to 50 countries, spanning four continents, including most recently in the European Union.”

“We are confident that our vaccine is effective, well-tolerated, and can have a real impact on the pandemic.”

The spokesperson said the company would “continue to share new data as it becomes available and work with Swissmedic to make Covid-19 vaccine AstraZeneca available in Switzerland as soon as possible.”

– 17 mn more doses –
Switzerland, which kicked off vaccination against the coronavirus in late December, meanwhile announced Wednesday that it had signed three more contracts to acquire another 17 million vaccine doses.

The country of 8.5 million people said it had reached an agreement with Germany’s Curevac, whose vaccine is in Phase 3 trials, and the Swedish government for the delivery of five million doses.

It said it had also signed a preliminary agreement with US firm Novavax for six million doses.

These will add two new vaccines to the Swiss portfolio, if they are approved by regulators.

At the same time, the Swiss government had also signed a deal to acquire an additional six million doses of the Moderna vaccine, bringing the total number of those jabs available in Switzerland to 13.5 million.

In addition, the government has signed deals for access to around three million Pfizer-BioNTech doses and 5.3 million AstraZeneca doses.

Swiss Lawyer Reveals How Abacha Looted Billions

General Sani Abacha was a Nigerian military Head of State in the 1990s
General Sani Abacha was a Nigerian military Head of State in the 1990s

 

A Swiss lawyer, Enrico Monfrini says he has been working for the past twenty years to recover funds looted by the Sani Abacha government.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Monfrini said he was first contacted by the civilian government of President Olusegun Obasanjo to help with the recovery.

He also explained some of his findings on how the former military dictator diverted the funds to Swiss banks using several allies and what he describes as dollars by truckloads.

In 2008, Mr Monfrini said $508m found in the Abacha family’s many Swiss bank accounts was sent from Switzerland to Nigeria between 2005 and 2007.

According to him, by 2018, the amount Switzerland had returned to Nigeria had reached more than $1bn.

He alleged that the late dictator diverted over four to five billion dollars at the initial stage.

Mr Monfrini said he is still expecting $30m he says is sitting in the UK to be returned, along with $144m in France and a further $18m in Jersey.

Switzerland Plans To Extend COVID-19 Restrictions Until March

Swiss Interior and health Minister Alain Berset reacts during a press conference on January 6, 2021 in Bern after the Swiss government decided to extend the measures to fight the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus by five weeks until the end of February. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

 

Switzerland on Wednesday planned to extend the closure of bars, restaurants and leisure facilities until the end of February in a bid to control stubbornly high Covid-19 case numbers.

“The situation is not good; frankly, it’s bad,” Health Minister Alain Berset told a press conference in the capital Bern.

The pandemic “is not decreasing and remains at a very high level”.

The restrictions, which had been due to last until January 22, are set to be extended for a further five weeks.

READ ALSO: Manchester City Confirm Three More COVID-19 Cases

The government will consult the regional cantons on the proposals before a final decision on January 13.

Switzerland’s pandemic restrictions have not been as strict as in other European countries.

However, “the epidemiological situation remains tense: the number of infections, hospitalisations and deaths, as well as the burden on health workers, remains very high,” the government said in a statement.

Switzerland, population 8.6 million, recorded nearly 4,800 new cases and 65 new deaths on Wednesday, taking its totals to 468,427 cases and 7,400 fatalities.

The Federal Council said it could not see case numbers decreasing significantly in coming weeks and therefore envisaged extending the measures first imposed in late December.

Furthermore, the discovery of “new, more contagious” coronavirus variants in Britain and South Africa “increases the likelihood of an upsurge”.

The government said it would take steps to mitigate the economic consequences of extending the restrictions.

From Saturday it was ending exemptions from the existing rules for cantons where the virus was less prevalent.

“The Federal Council thus wants to prevent shopping tourism and gastronomic tourism between cantons and strengthen acceptance of the measures,” it said.

Switzerland has found the new coronavirus mutation in 28 samples — all people who arrived from Britain, or people with whom they had been in contact.

“This new variant could behave like a new pandemic within the pandemic,” Virginie Masserey, head of the health ministry’s infection control department, said Tuesday.

Switzerland was the first continental western European country to start its Covid-19 vaccination campaign, doing so on December 23 with the Pfizer-BioNTech jab.

With the doses already received from manufacturers, Switzerland can vaccinate the most vulnerable 2.7 percent of the population, said Berset.

AFP

Switzerland Authorises Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine

In this file photo taken on November 23, 2020 is pictured a bottle reading “Vaccine Covid-19” next to US pharmaceutical company Pfizer and German biotechnology company BioNTech logos on November 23, 2020.
JOEL SAGET / AFP

 

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been authorised for use in Switzerland following a two-month rolling review, the Swissmedic regulatory authority said Saturday.

“After a meticulous review of the available information, Swissmedic concluded that the Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech is safe and that its benefit outweighs the risks,” the body said in a statement.

It is the first vaccine against the new coronavirus that has been authorised for use in the wealthy Alpine nation.

“The safety of patients is an essential prerequisite, especially where the authorisation of vaccines is concerned,” said Swissmedic director Raimund Bruhin.

“Thanks to the rolling procedure and our flexibly organised teams, we nevertheless managed to reach a decision quickly — while also fully satisfying the three most important requirements of safety, efficacy, and quality.”

Switzerland, population 8.6 million, has secured around 15.8 million Covid-19 vaccine doses, in deals with three manufacturers.

It has signed contracts for around three million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, around 7.5 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine, and around 5.3 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

With all three manufacturers’ vaccines, two doses are required per person.

With Covid-19 cases and deaths still rising fast, the Swiss government announced Friday that restaurants and bars would be closed again across the country.

“The epidemiological situation is a cause of great concern,” the government said in a statement.

“The number of infections is very high and is continuing to rise. Hospitals and healthcare workers have been under extreme pressure for weeks and the festive period increases the risk of an even more rapid rise in cases,” it explained.

Switzerland is continuing to witness more than 4,000 new cases and 100 deaths each day.

In total, Switzerland has recorded more than 400,000 cases and nearly 6,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

-AFP

Switzerland To Impose 7:00 PM Curfew As COVID-19 Cases Continue

Swiss Interior and Health Minister Alain Berset speaks during a press conference on new measures against the Covid 19 pandemic on December 11, 2020 in Bern. Switzerland, which is failing to control the Covid-19 epidemic with the highest contamination rates in Europe, adopted a package of measures including the closure of restaurants, bars and shops at 7pm.
Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

 

Switzerland announced Friday that all shops, bars, and restaurants must close from 7:00 pm as it struggles to tame a resurgence in the coronavirus pandemic.

The country has some of the worst per capita infection rates in Europe and with those numbers back on the rise, the government fears the situation could get completely out of control over Christmas.

“We’re witnessing an exponential increase,” President Simonetta Sommaruga told a press conference in the capital Bern.

“Our hospitals and our health workers are being stretched to the limit. We couldn’t wait any longer.”

The new rules apply from Saturday and will last until January 22, with a closing time extension until 1:00 am on the nights of December 24 and 31.

The restrictions are an attempt to reduce the amount of contact between people.

With a population of 8.6 million, Switzerland is clocking up around 5,000 new cases and 100 deaths a day — a base level Health Minister Alain Berset said was far too high to start from if infections begin to double again.

“We can’t count on a vaccine, even if it arrives in January,” to fix the problem, Berset said.

 

READ ALSO; Russia Records 613 COVID-19 Deaths In 24 Hours

 

In March, during the first wave of infections, Switzerland was not hit as hard by Covid-19 deaths and did not impose as strict a lockdown as some other European states.

It gradually eased off those measures in stages and seemed to have mastered the virus.

From nearly no new cases at the beginning of June — indeed, just three were recorded on June 1 — infections rose slowly but steadily before rocketing in October, when cases, hospitalisations, and deaths began doubling from week to week.

After tumbling from a very high peak, progress stagnated in December and the daily case numbers have since begun to tick up again.

Some 372,329 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Switzerland, while 5,378 have died.

-AFP

Swiss Sound Alarm As ICU Beds Fill Up With COVID-19 Patients

A healthcare worker takes a swab sample from a Swiss army reservist to be tested for the coronavirus disease at Moudon military base near a sign reading “Military” on November 8, 2020 
Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

 

A top Swiss medical association has sounded the alarm about over-saturated intensive care units across Switzerland as the second wave of Covid-19 infections takes a heavy toll.

“Swiss intensive care units are at the limit of their regular bed capacity,” the Swiss Society for Intensive Care Medicine (SSMI) warned in a statement issued Tuesday.

It said the 876 ICU beds for adults that it certifies across the wealthy Alpine nation “are practically all full”.

More beds have meanwhile been added, and the Swiss military has been called in to support efforts in several cantons.

Andreas Stettbacher, the Surgeon General of the Swiss Armed Forces, told media on Tuesday that the total number of intensive care beds in the country was now above 1,100, but warned they were at 80 percent capacity.

At the same time, the number of Covid-19 patients in ICUs across Switzerland has soared from 148 at the end of October to 543 on Tuesday, he said.

Switzerland emerged relatively unscathed from the first wave of Covid-19 infections in the spring but has been heavily impacted by the second wave, with hospitals pushed to the brink.

The country of 8.5 million people passed 10,000 cases per day several times earlier this month, and stricter measures, including the closure of restaurants and shops in some areas, have seen the numbers drop somewhat.

On Wednesday, Switzerland registered more than 6,000 new cases and 84 new deaths, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to nearly 280,000 confirmed cases and 3,377 deaths.

Swiss authorities have voiced concern over a spike in excess deaths among the elderly.

During the first week of November, 1,702 people aged over 65 died from causes including Covid — 50 percent more than normal for the age group.

SSMI said it was essential to postpone all non-urgent medical procedures to avoid overwhelming hospitals.

The organisation also urged everyone, but especially those with a high risk of developing severe Covid-19, to draft directives such as whether they wish to receive prolonged life-support if they fall critically ill.

“In this way, their loved ones, but also medical teams in the intensive care units, will be supported in the decision-making process, ensuring the best possible treatment in accordance with the patient’s wishes,” it said.

-AFP

Messi Vs Ronaldo In Champions League Group stage, Man Utd To Face PSG

(COMBO) This combination created on October 1, 2020, shows file pictures of Barcelona's Argentine forward Lionel Messi (L) Juventus' Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo. Miguel MEDINA, Josep LAGO / AFP
(COMBO) This combination created on October 1, 2020, shows file pictures of Barcelona’s Argentine forward Lionel Messi (L) Juventus’ Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo. Miguel MEDINA, Josep LAGO / AFP

 

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will meet in a mouthwatering clash in this season’s Champions League after Barcelona and Juventus were placed in the same group in Thursday’s draw.

Messi and Ronaldo will resume the rivalry they developed when the Portuguese superstar was at Real Madrid. Between them, they have won 11 of the last 12 Ballons d’Or.

The two heavyweights were drawn in Group G along with Dynamo Kiev of Ukraine and Ferencvaros, the Hungarian club returning to the group stage for the first time in quarter of a century.

Meanwhile, beaten 2020 finalists Paris Saint-Germain will have a chance for revenge against Manchester United, who ousted the French club in the last 16 two seasons ago.

READ ALSO: Lewandowski Named UEFA Men’s Player Of The Year

PSG will also come up against RB Leipzig in Group H. The sides met in last season’s semi-finals in Lisbon in August, with Paris winning 3-0 before losing to Bayern Munich in their first-ever final appearance.

Completing the group is Istanbul Basaksehir, who are appearing in the tournament proper for the first time.

English Premier League champions Liverpool, who won the Champions League in 2019, will face Ajax as well as Atalanta and Midtjylland of Denmark in Group D.

Holders Bayern will take on Atletico Madrid and will also have a short trip across the border to Austria to take on Salzburg in Group A. Lokomotiv Moscow are other team in the section.

Other notable match-ups will see 13-time European champions Real Madrid meet Inter Milan in Group B and Chelsea come up against debutants Rennes as well as Europa League winners Sevilla in Group E.

Chelsea signed goalkeeper Edouard Mendy from Rennes last week.

The group stage starts on October 20, and all six rounds of games will be crammed into eight weeks in a schedule that is even more packed than usual because of the coronavirus pandemic.

This season’s final is scheduled to be staged in Istanbul, which was initially the host for last season’s final before UEFA was forced into a change of plans because of the health crisis.

It remains to be seen whether spectators will be able to attend matches in the group stage.

Lewandowski Named UEFA Men’s Player Of The Year

 

Robert Lewandowski was named UEFA Men’s Player of the Year on Thursday following a superb season in which he won the treble with Bayern Munich.

Lewandowski was at UEFA headquarters in Nyon in Switzerland to receive the award at the draw for the Champions League group stage, just weeks after Bayern won the 2019/20 edition of the competition.

The Poland striker scored 55 goals in 47 games as Bayern also won the Bundesliga and German Cup. He was the top scorer in the Champions League with 15 goals.