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Today in Switzerland: A round-up of the latest news on Tuesday

Find out what's going on in Switzerland today with The Local's short round-up of the news.

Today in Switzerland: A round-up of the latest news on Tuesday
Hundreds of people were infected while at HUG. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini /AFP

Winter is making its comeback in Switzerland

The mild, springlike temperatures that prevailed throughout the country in the last two weeks will soon be replaced by cold weather, according to the forecast of Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology (MeteoSuisse).

From Saturday, March 6th , snow and frosty conditions are expected along the northern slope of the Alps and on the plains in some regions.

READ MORE: 18 degrees and sunshine: Warm weather predicted for Switzerland this weekend 

A treasure trove for map enthusiasts

The Federal Office of Topography (Swisstopo) is making is making its digital national maps available free of charge for download on its website

Included are historical maps, aerial images, landscape models, aeronautical maps, and geological data. 

There are also over 850 datasets on a wide range of topics on the map viewer of the Swiss Federal Geoportal.


Several hundred people caught coronavirus at Geneva hospital

An estimated 500 patients at Geneva’s university hospitals (HUG)  had been infected with Covid during the second wave of the pandemic.

This figure is based on the number of people who tested positive six days after their hospitalisation.

HUG said it implemented measures to prevent the spread of  Covid infections among the patients, and such incidents “have all but disappeared in the past three weeks”.

Since October, 4,000 coronavirus patients have been treated at HUG. About 10 percent of them died, but not necessarily from complications of Covid-19.

New twice-weekly flights between Geneva and Belgrade

The Serbian national airline, air Serbia, announced that it would fly to Geneva twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays.

Tickets are offered from 52 euros, with an additional 50 percent discount on children’s fares.

A negative Covid test is required for arrivals to Serbia, and travellers from Serbia to Switzerland must self-quarantine for 10 days.

Hundreds in Luzern protest against suspension of corona-skeptic doctor

Some 350 protesters, most of whom didn’t wear masks, demonstrated in front of cantonal offices in support of a local physician accused of “seriously violating his professional duties”, authorities said.

Dr. Andreas Heisler temporarily lost his license because he reportedly didn’t wear a mask while treating patients, and routinely issued waivers from the use of the mask to anyone who requested it. He also  “frightened the population with unfounded claims about the coronavirus vaccination”, Luzern’s health officials said.

If you have any questions about life in Switzerland, ideas for articles or news tips for The Local please get in touch with us at [email protected]

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Three scenarios: How Switzerland plans to fight a Covid resurgence

Swiss government has devised three contingency plans that could be implemented to fight a new outbreak. What are they?

Three scenarios: How Switzerland plans to fight a Covid resurgence
Authorities want to prevent overcrowded hospitals if new wave comes. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

Although Switzerland relaxed a number of coronavirus rules from June 26th and 28th, “the pandemic is not over”, as Health Minister Alain Berset said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Berset said Switzerland should not become complacent, with last summer a warning against feeling that the battle is won. 

He added, however, that the new wave is unlikely to be as large as the previous ones due to the country’s vaccination campaign.

This situation leaves a degree of uncertainty for which the government wants to be prepared as well as possible, Berset noted.

The Federal Council established a “just-in-case” procedure on Wednesday for three possible scenarios that could take place in the autumn and winter. 

These plans focus mainly on the rapid detection of variants and the continuation of vaccination, testing, and tracing.

The best-case scenario: status quo

In this scenario, the number of cases remains at a low level, though small outbreaks are still possible.

The number of infections may increase slightly due to seasonal factors — the virus is known to spread slower in summer and faster in autumn and winter—  but does not place a significant burden on the health system.

If this happens, no measures beyond those already in place would be necessary.

READ MORE: ANALYSIS: Is Switzerland lifting its Covid-19 restrictions too quickly?

Not so good: more contaminations

In this second scenario, there is an increase in the number of cases in autumn or winter.

There may be several reasons for this, for example the large proportion of unvaccinated people, seasonal effects — people tend to stay indoors together in cold weather, and contaminations are easier — or the appearance of new, more infectious variants.

This situation could overburden the health system and require the reintroduction of certain measures, such as the obligation to wear a mask outdoors.

Booster vaccinations may also be necessary.

The worst: new virus mutations

In scenario three, one or more new variants appear, against which the vaccine or the post-recovery immunity are less effective or no longer effective.

A new wave of pandemic emerges, requiring strong intervention by the public authorities and a new vaccination.

Which of the three scenarios is most likely to happen?

The government hasn’t said, but judging by the comments of health officials, the latter two are the strongest contenders.

Firstly, because the highly contagious Delta mutation, which is spreading quickly through many countries, is expected to be dominant in Switzerland within a few weeks.

It is expected that the virus will spread mostly to those who are not vaccinated and, to a lesser degree, to people who have only had one shot of the vaccine, according to Andreas Cerny, epidemiologist at the University of Bern

READ MORE: How Switzerland plans to contain the Delta variant

Another concern is related to the appearance of the new variants which could be as or possibly even more contagious than Delta and not as responsive to the current vaccines.

The government said the best chance of avoiding the second or third scenarios is to ensure people are vaccinated. 

“Widespread vaccination of the population is crucial to relieve the burden on the healthcare system and to manage the epidemic. A possible increase in the number of coronavirus cases in the autumn will largely depend on the proportion of the population that has been vaccinated,” the government wrote in a press statement.

The government has also indicating it is preparing for booster vaccinations to take place in 2022 and are encouraging cantons to keep their vaccine infrastructures in place.