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HEALTH

‘Has the canton given up?’ Vaud to no longer test for ‘cold’ symptoms

Rising infection rates in Vaud have seen a change in testing policy. People with certain symptoms - such as fatigue, muscle pains and a runny nose - will no longer qualify for an automatic test for the virus.

'Has the canton given up?' Vaud to no longer test for 'cold’ symptoms
A man walks behind a steel grate in Vaud. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

On Thursday, Vaud reported 168 new coronavirus infections. Over the past two weeks, the canton has 168 cases per 100,000 people – well over the Swiss government’s ‘high-risk’ threshold of 60 per 100,000 residents. 

Quarantine: How does Switzerland decide a country is 'high risk'? 

As a result, the French-speaking canton has adjusted its testing regime. 

Swiss daily 20 Minutes reports that people with with symptoms of a common cold – as well as some of the less common reported symptoms of the virus – will no longer be tested. 

People with muscle pain, headaches, runny nose, general fatigue or stomach problems will no longer qualify for a test. 

Doctors in the canton will still have the power to order a test on a discretionary basis, however. 

“Less typical symptoms only require a test if there has been contact with a positively confirmed case,” the cantonal government wrote on the updated website. 

The change came through on Thursday, October 8th, reports 20 Minutes. The cantonal website did not provide a reason for why the change was adopted, however cantonal authorities told 20 Minutes that the testing regime was not being relaxed. 

Instead, authorities said the goal was to reshape the testing regime to find more positive cases. 

“The goal of the test strategy is to test more specifically in order to find more positive cases. Over 90 percent of people who have become infected develop typical symptoms,” the spokesperson told 20 Minutes. 

 

 

‘Has the canton given up?’

Experts are critical of the move. Epidemiologist Marcel Salathé tweeted that the decision represented “going in the wrong direction”. 

Geneva virologist Isabella Eckerle tweeted that the decision was “very alarming in the current situation. Has the canton already given up in view of the 2nd wave and is now letting it go?”

 

 

Eckerle warned that the canton – and the entire west of Switzerland – could be headed for a second lockdown. 

On Thursday, October 8th, Vaud set up a ‘Covid-19 Scientific Council’ to provide scientific advice on the pandemic

As noted by Le Temps, “the concrete role of this community is to rely on scientific knowledge and expertise in order to formulate recommendations to the canton. It will also have to assess the measures provided for by it and propose specific actions.”

Also on Thursday, cantonal authorities told hospitality venues to shift to digital means of contact tracing due to “reliability problems” with the existing paper-based system. 

 

 

 

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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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