Swiss resort St Moritz mass testing finds 53 COVID infections, 31 variant cases

FILE PHOTO: A view of the Grand Hotel Des Bains Kempinski as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in the Alpine resort of St Moritz, Switzerland, January 18, 2021. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

ZURICH (Reuters) - Acw - have we just been using mortiz for this series - no swiss?

Mass COVID-19 testing of thousands of people in the Swiss resort of St Moritz where luxury hotels were placed under quarantine found 53 infections, local officials said on Thursday, including 31 cases of a fast-spreading coronavirus variant.

Authorities said about 3,200 people were tested this week, and that the 31 infections caused by viral variants were discovered among hotel employees, not guests at the two hotels placed under quarantine, Badrutt's Palace Hotel and the Grand Hotel des Bains Kempinski.

St Moritz said it was lifting emergency measures that had been put in place to protect the community. The town of 5,200 people had closed local schools, shuttered ski schools and required masks be worn in all public areas, for fear mutant virus was spreading quickly.

"The mutated virus was found particularly in hotel employees and was not transmitted to hotel guests," officials with the canton of Grisons said in a statement.

"This shows that the hotels' protection concepts work and that employee testing is a sensible, effective measure."

In all, more than 300 cases of mutated coronavirus have been identified across Switzerland, most of a variant that has circulated quickly in Britain but some from a virus variant linked to South Africa, as well.

It is not immediately clear whether the 31 cases of viral variants found in St Moritz can be linked to the British or South African version, since they contained a mutation common to both and require further genetic sequencing.

In another growing outbreak of the viral variants in Switzerland, authorities in the northwestern canton of Basel-Land late on Wednesday said they shuttered schools in the town of Oberwil after a rapid increase in infections was documented.

(Reporting by John Miller)

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