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HEALTH

Swiss coronavirus cases at highest level in four months

Switzerland racked up more than 300 new coronavirus cases on Friday for the second time this week, as confirmed infections returned to a level not seen since mid-April.

Swiss coronavirus cases at highest level in four months
The number of Covid-19 tests is on the increase in Switzerland. Photo by AFP

The wealthy Alpine nation managed to avoid the worst of the pandemic despite bordering Italy, Europe's early epicentre for deaths and infections.

In mid-March, Switzerland introduced restrictions aimed at halting the spread, though it stopped short of the strict confinement imposed by some of its neighbours.

It eased off its restrictions in gradual stages — but case numbers have been steadily on the rise since late June.

“The situation is under control, but remains fragile,” Health Minister Alain Berset said Thursday.

He flagged a recent “distinct decrease in discipline” from the public, urging people to respect physical distancing and quarantine rules.

The health ministry said on Friday 306 new cases had been reported in the previous 24 hours, taking the total number of cases recorded to 39,232 — of which 1,505 have come in the past seven days.

Daily rates peaked at over 1,000 in mid-March before plunging to a few dozen between mid-May and mid-June, but have been steadily increasing since then.

 Back to school 

Switzerland, which has so far recorded 1,719 deaths in the pandemic, began gradually easing its restrictions from April 27, allowing larger gatherings and reducing the distance people were required to keep from each other.

Many schools have already resumed after the holidays with primary and middle schools generally not requiring students or teachers to wear masks, sparking some concern that new spikes in cases could lie ahead.

Switzerland is carrying out around 10,000 tests a day, and the country of 8.5 million people has now conducted approaching a million such tests — 5.1 percent giving positive results.

An estimated 1.36 million people are actively using the SwissCovid contact-tracing smartphone app, which uses Bluetooth wireless technology to register proximity.

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TAXES

Masks, tests and jabs: Can I deduct Covid-related costs from my taxes in Switzerland?

Switzerland’s tax deadline is just around the corner. Are Covid-related costs tax deductible?

Masks, tests and jabs: Can I deduct Covid-related costs from my taxes in Switzerland?

March 31st is the deadline for filing taxes in Switzerland relating to the 2021 financial year. 

Over the past two years, the Covid pandemic has seen a change in our spending habits. 

While we may have saved on restaurants and travel, we laid out considerable costs on a range of new expenses, including disinfectant, masks and Covid tests. 

As some of these costs are required by law, can they be deducted from your tax?

In some cases, expenses directly related to the Covid pandemic can be deducted. 

Masks, for instance, can be deducted as medical expenses in some cantons, Swiss tax specialist Markus Stoll told 20 Minutes

This depends on the specific framework for tax deductions related to medical expenses in that canton. 

EXPLAINED: What can I deduct from my tax bill in Switzerland?

Generally speaking, any medical costs paid out of pocket can be deducted. However, most cantons impose a minimum percentage limit from which these costs can be deducted. 

In many cantons, this will start at five percent of your yearly income in total (i.e. including other out-of-pocket costs like dental or specialist visits), meaning you would need to purchase a significant amount of masks to beat the threshold. 

What about testing and vaccination?

Testing and vaccinations however were largely free as their costs were covered by the Swiss government, which means associated expenses cannot be deducted. 

Those tests which were not covered by the government – for instance for travel abroad or for visiting clubs – cannot be deducted, Stoll says. 

“Tests for travel abroad or to visit clubs are not deductible” Stoll said. 

For a complete overview of taxation in Switzerland, including several specific guides, please check out our tax-specific page here. 

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