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BERLIN (AP) — Swiss voters were having their say in a referendum Sunday on legislation which imposed the use of a special COVID-19 certificate that lets only people who have been vaccinated, recovered or tested negative attend public events and gatherings.

The vote offers a relatively rare bellwether of public opinion specifically on the issue of government policy to fight the coronavirus in Europe, currently the global epicenter of the pandemic.

The vote on the country’s “COVID-19 law,” which also has unlocked billions of Swiss francs in aid for workers and businesses hit by the pandemic, comes as Switzerland — like many other nations in Europe — faces a steep rise in coronavirus cases.

The Swiss federal government, unlike others, hasn’t responded with new restrictions. Analysts say it doesn’t want to stir up more opposition to its anti-COVID-19 policies before they face Sunday’s test at the ballot box. If the Swiss give a thumbs-up, however, the government may well ratchet up its anti-COVID efforts.

Polls suggest a solid majority of Swiss will approve the measure, which is already in effect and the rejection of which would end the restrictions — as well as the payouts. But in recent weeks, opponents have raised heaps of cash for their campaign and drawn support from abroad.

On Tuesday, Swiss health authorities warned of a rising “fifth wave” in the rich Alpine country, where vaccination rates are roughly in line with those in hard-hit neighbors Austria and Germany at about two-thirds of the population. Infection rates have soared in recent weeks.

The seven-day average case count in Switzerland shot up to more than 5,200 per day from mid-October to mid-November, a more than five-fold increase — with an upward curve like those in neighboring Germany and Austria.


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Urgent warning over rise of sexually transmitted superbug that’s drug resistant

AN urgent warning has been issued over the rise of a sexually transmitted superbug that it "extremely" drug resistant.

Shigella is on the increase in Britain, experts at the UK Health Security Agency said this week.

1Experts have warned the illness, that can be passed on through sex, is on the riseCredit: Getty - Contributor

It is a gut infection that causes diarrhoea, stomach cramps and fever - it is often confused with food poisoning.

Symptoms are usually seen between one and four days after exposure, and shouldn't be dismissed.

The illness is mainly seen in gay and bisexual men, with 47 cases logged between September 1, 2021 and January 10, 2022.

This is compared to 16 cases in 17 months the year before - with experts concerned it is spreading further.

UKSHA has been following the strain since 2018, but recent cases show it is getting more resistant to antibiotics.

It is caused by bacteria found in faeces, with sex one way the infection can spread.

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Dr Gauri Godbole, Consultant Medical Microbiologist at UKHSA, said: "Practising good hygiene after sex is really important to keep you and your partners safe.

"Avoid oral sex immediately after anal sex, and change condoms between anal or oral sex and wash your hands with soap after sexual contact.

"It’s important that gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men do not dismiss their symptoms and speak to their GP or sexual health clinic, mentioning Shigella, if they are unwell.

"Men with Shigella may have been exposed to other STIs including HIV, so a sexual health screen at a clinic or ordering tests online is recommended.

"If you have been diagnosed with Shigella, give yourself time to recover. Keep hydrated and get lots of rest.

"Don’t have sex until 7 days after your last symptom and avoid spas, swimming, jacuzzis, hot tubs and sharing towels as well as preparing food for other people until a week after symptoms stop."

You can find out more information about Shigella and get advice on other topics at Sexwise or by calling the free National Sexual Health Helpline at 0300 123 7123.

The bug can last for a week and can be found anywhere, affecting anyone - not just people having sex.

Those affected should drink fluids to prevent dehydration, and visit a doctor to see if antibiotics are required.

Paracetamol and ibuprofen work to ease headaches and high temperatures in less severe cases.

GPs should be notified if a child starts developing shigellosis symptoms.

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