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

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Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in St Moritz

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

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."

(Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Angus MacSwan)