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Swiss weigh closing restaurants to curb coronavirus spread- papers

ZURICH, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset will ask cabinet colleagues on Friday to close restaurants for a month to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus, two newspapers reported.

Switzerland’s government has faced pressure to tighten public health measures as new infection numbers remain stubbornly high, putting severe pressure on the healthcare system.

Nearly 400,000 people have been infected with COVID-19 and more than 5,880 have died of it in Switzerland and its tiny neighbour, Liechtenstein.

The government’s leading scientific adviser urged the immediate imposition of a strict lockdown on Tuesday, echoing calls by other scientists, officials and medical professionals.

After easing strict measures imposed in March, Switzerland has refrained from ordering another shutdown while ordering restaurants, bars and shops to close from 7 p.m. across most of the country. Most ski resorts remain open.

The Tages-Anzeiger and Blick newspapers said Berset wanted restaurants closed from Dec. 22 but faced resistance from cabinet colleagues to sweeping measures that could cripple the economy.

The Tages-Anzeiger also cited the deputy head of the drugs regulator as saying the agency was highly likely to approve a COVID-19 vaccine this month.

Switzerland has ordered vaccines from Pfizer and partner BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca which are under regulatory review. (Reporting by Michael Shields Editing by Karishma Singh)

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