Swiss coronavirus death toll rises to 378, positive tests hit 17,139

Swiss coronavirus death toll rises to 378, positive tests hit 17,139

Civil defence worker checks papers of a driver before he can enter a drive-in test center in Luzern
Civil defence worker checks papers of a driver before he can enter a drive-in test center in Luzern

ZURICH: The Swiss death toll from the coronavirus has reached 378, the country's public health ministry said on Wednesday (Apr 1), rising from 373 people a day earlier as Switzerland prepares additional measures to mitigate the epidemic's economic hit.

The number of positive tests also increased to 17,139 from 16,176 on Tuesday, the ministry added.

The Swiss government is preparing to expand an emergency liquidity programme for coronavirus-hit businesses, as banks have already handed out more than half of the 20 billion Swiss francs (US$20.70 billion) set aside for state-backed loans.

"This should address the high demand from companies for COVID-19 bridge loans," Switzerland's cabinet said in a statement, adding it had instructed the finance ministry to craft the proposal for additional measures by Friday.

Swiss economy minister Guy Parmelin said the total volume of loans granted so far is 10.6 billion francs as part of the no- and low-interest credit program set up last week.

Switzerland's government has so far set aside a total of 42 billion francs to help the export-driven economy through the crisis, the biggest economic aid package in Swiss history. It is now looking to extend and top up existing economic measures, if needed.

That could include helping protect start-ups from bankruptcy, it said, and expanding financial support to cover self-employed individuals who have seen massive losses due to the economic disruption, even though they do not work in occupations that have been forbidden as part of measures the country has adopted to limit the epidemic's spread.

Further measures are under consideration to cover travel agencies, culture and sports, the government said, while adding it would be unable to cover all claims for lost income.

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Source: Reuters

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