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(CNN)People in Switzerland will vote on Sunday on the government's health measures against Covid-19, in the wake of a large increase in new cases this month.

Voters will have their say on the modifications of a previous Covid law, which were adopted by the Swiss Parliament last March. According to a document from the Federal Council (Switzerland's federal government), the Parliament changed the law to "extend financial aid to people who could not be supported before or not enough," as well as "to improve the tracing of contact cases and increase testing capacity.
"It also enacted the legal basis for the introduction of the "Covid certificate" -- or health pass -- "to facilitate travel abroad and to allow the holding of certain events," according to the Federal Council.
    Opponents believe that existing laws are "sufficient to protect the Swiss from Covid-19 or other infectious diseases," according to the LoiCovid-Non committee, which includes several groups opposing the law. They also argue that the Covid law discriminates against the unvaccinated and would lead to an "unprecedented divide in Swiss society."
      Last month, a spokeswoman for the Friends of the Constitution committee, part of LoiCovid-Non, referred to Switzerland's health pass as a "health apartheid." The certificate establishes an obligation to get vaccinated, since the tests are now paid for, Cailler argued. "We are trying to coerce the population through their wallet," she said.Read MoreThough most Swiss political movements still support the law, populist right-wing Swiss People's party (UDC), the country's first political force, has expressed its support for the "No" campaign in the referendum.Travel doors slam shut as new Covid variant triggers alarm, stranding hundreds of passengersThe latest wave has hit Switzerland hard with a seven-day rolling average of over daily 5,000 cases this past week in a population of 8 million. According to the Swiss government's Covid platform, 75,843 new cases had been detected in the country over the past 14 days as of Thursday, a number approaching last year's peak of infections.This is the second time in less than six months that the Swiss have had to vote on health measures. In June, citizens supported the 2020 Covid law with 60.2% of the vote in a first referendum.
        Navigating the pandemic and its legal updates has been a challenge for the Confederation's system of direct democracy, in which all decisions taken at the federal, cantonal or municipal level can later be questioned by voters.As is usually the case, three laws will be put to the vote on Sunday: the Covid law, an initiative "for strong nursing care" and an initiative on how federal judges are selected.

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        LA County appears to have passed peak of omicron surge as new subvariant detected

        LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- While the winter surge of COVID-19 infections fueled by the Omicron variant appears to be easing, authorities are watching the emergence of an omicron "sub-lineage" that has spread rapidly in some countries, with Los Angeles County's health director saying four cases have been recently found locally.

        Barbara Ferrer told reporters in an online briefing on Thursday that the original omicron variant, technically known as BA.1, remains the dominant variant circulating in Los Angeles County, representing more than 98% of sequenced cases as of early January. But with four cases of the omicron "sub-lineage" known as BA.2 now identified, she said officials will be awaiting answers from researchers about whether it could potentially lead to another surge.

        "We don't yet know how BA.2 might be different than other omicron lineages, and scientists will be working rapidly in the coming weeks to learn more about immune evasion, severity and transmissibility," Ferrer said. "In places that have already passed their peak of omicron cases, it does appear that BA.2 is causing a new surge. In places at their peak of the omicron surge that have significant BA.2 prevalence, it doesn't appear that BA.2 is behaving dramatically different than other omicron lineages. And compared with other omicron lineages, BA.2 does not really have many unique mutations that would be impacting the part of the virus that's targeted by our immune system.'"

        Ferrer said it's too early to sound any alarms over the BA.2 variant, since too many questions about its impact still need to be answered, but it should serve as a reminder to people that more COVID-19 variants could develop as long as the virus continues to spread. And that means continued adherence to infection-control measures -- and vaccinations.

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        "It's very possible there could be another variant of concern in the future that can spread easily and contribute to another surge," Ferrer said. "Given the effectiveness of the FDA-authorized vaccines against at least four different known strains of the virus -- we've had alpha, epsilon, delta and omicron -- vaccines do remain our best tool for preventing COVID-19. Getting as many people vaccinated as soon as possible can help us sustain the declines we're seeing and limit opportunities in the future for new variants to arise."

        Ferrer noted again that the county is seeing declines in case rates and hospitalizations, indicating the peak of the Omicron case surge has passed.

        "While the case and hospitalization declines give us cause for much-welcomed hope, we should not take them as a sign to forgo the common sense protective measures that help to slow COVID-19 transmission in our county," she said. "Continuing these safety measures is needed to drive down cases to a much smaller number, which will ultimately end staffing shortages, reduce workplace and school outbreaks, and most importantly keep residents from becoming seriously ill and dying."

        15-month-old is youngest person in LA County to die of COVID since start of pandemic
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        On the two-year anniversary of Los Angeles County's first confirmed COVID-19 case, health officials say 91 more people have died of the virus, including a 15-month-old.

        Ferrer noted that COVID-19 deaths remain relatively high, averaging about 59 per day in the county. On Thursday, the county reported 85 new virus-related deaths, raising the overall pandemic death toll to 28,715.

        Another 26,010 new COVID cases were reported Thursday, giving the county a pandemic total of 2,586,739. The rolling daily average rate of people testing positive for the virus fell to 12.7%, down from around 20% earlier this month.

        According to state figures, there were 4,323 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals as of Thursday, down from 4,534 on Wednesday. The number of those patients being treated in intensive care was 746, a drop from 780 a day earlier.

        According to the county, 81% of eligible county residents aged 5 and above have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 72% are fully vaccinated. Only 32% are fully vaccinated with a booster shot. Of the county's overall 10.3 million population, 77% have received one dose, 69% are fully vaccinated, and 31% are vaccinated and boosted.

        The vaccination rate among children aged 5-11 remains low, with only 31% having received at least one dose, and only 21% fully vaccinated. Ferrer said the low vaccination rate among children "creates significant vulnerability for spread" of the virus.

        Of the more than 6.5 million fully vaccinated residents in the county, 580,942 have subsequently gotten infected with COVID, for a rate of 8.9%. That's a notably higher rate than December, when it was 2%, an increase Ferrer attributed to the highly transmissible Omicron variant. But the number of fully vaccinated residents who have been hospitalized was 6,998 as of this month, for a rate of 0.1%. The number who have died is 886, for a rate of 0.01%.

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