Swiss authorities have expressed their concern over two yodeling concerts by singing alongside 600 traditional singing fans that are now known to have been COVID-19 superspreader events that turned a small Swiss canton into a hot spot as the second wave of a pandemic invests Europe.
People who attended the indoor shows in late September in the canton of Schwyz were advised to get away socially, but were not required to wear masks that would hinder their yodeling.
The small village area now has a 50% positivity rate (meaning half of all tests come back positive), making it the highest contagion rate in all of Europe, with the number of cases doubling every day in the past week.
Beat Hegner, who organized the events, told a local Swiss TV station that he found out nine days after the event that several people from the main group of yodelers who attended both concerts had been infected. “We can̵
Face masks are not yet needed in the canton, but local hospital director Franziska Foellmi has asked people to wear them to stop the spread of the highly contagious virus and take the pressure off the local hospital, which is under pressure.
“It’s time to react,” Reto Nueesch, the hospital’s chief physician, said in the same televised interview. “The explosion in the number of cases in Schwyz is one of the worst in Europe”.
COVID-19 infections have increased across Europe, with France on Thursday recording 30,000 new cases in a 24-hour period, leading to a curfew in cities like Paris. Italy also recorded a higher number of infections than in the first wave, when the country was the epicenter of the European epidemic.
Authorities blame the reopening of schools and the apparent reluctance of young people to take the pandemic seriously for the new wave. Attempts to crack down on nightlife so far have done little across the EU to mitigate the spread.
Although yodeling is also popular in the Austrian region of Tyrol and other Alpine areas, the Swiss canton is the first known case of the traditional practice linked to a COVID-19 outbreak.