The COVID-19 pandemic has not deterred the Swiss from sending yodels echoing across their mountain valleys, but a concert attended by 600 people is believed to have made one canton a European virus hotspot.
At the late September yodeling event in the rural Schwyz canton, people in the audience were asked to maintain social distancing, but mask-wearing was not required.
“We can’t do anything about what happened with this yodeling group. We found out nine days after the performances that several people from the group were infected,” event organizer Beat Hegner told RTS public television.
Now the pandemic has spread through the region, with 1,238 cases compared with just 500 in the middle of last month.
On Wednesday alone, 94 people tested positive, twice as many as the day before.
An overloaded hospital in the region has asked people to wear masks and avoid gatherings.
“There’s an extremely high rate of positive tests. We’ve gone from 30 to 50 percent,” hospital head Franziska Foellmi said.
“It’s time we reacted. The explosion in the number of cases in Schwyz is one of the worst in all of Europe,” head doctor Reto Nueesch posted online.
Cantonal authorities have stepped up infection control measures, making mask-wearing compulsory at all public and private events with more than 50 people and in situations where distancing cannot be maintained.
However, people can still go to the shops without covering their nose and mouth.
Yodeling, an age-old style of singing where the performer rapidly switches between registers, is also practiced in Austria’s Tyrol region and in variant forms across the mountains of central Europe, from Poland to Romania.
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