SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

MIGROS

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

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

Today in Switzerland: A round-up of the latest news on Wednesday
Photo: SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP

Rapid Covid tests: pharmacies and test centres are fully booked

It may be difficult to get a last-minute coronavirus test this week.

To ensure safe family get-togethers over Easter, an increasing number of people is taking advantage of free antigen testing. As a result, many test centres and pharmacies across Switzerland are fully booked until after the holiday.

“We noticed last week that demand had risen sharply and the time slots we had were immediately booked up”, according to Valeria Dora, owner of the Morgental pharmacy in Zurich.

Migros is planning further price reductions

In its annual report, Switzerland’s largest supermarket chain has said it lowered prices on hundreds of its products throughout 2020, and is planning to continue to do so this year.

 “We noticed that customers are reacting to the discounts and we are planning further price cuts wherever possible”, said Migros president Fabrice Zumbrunnen, adding that the chain’s philosophy is “not just about the price, but also about quality”.

Dozens of new companies opened in Zurich

Organisation called Greater Zurich Area (GZA) announced that 86 companies set up their operations in the Zurich region last year. That is a 21-percent decrease over 2019, but a satisfactory number nevertheless, given the economic impact of the pandemic.

These businesses created 510 jobs in the area and are planning to offer nearly 1,600 more over the next five years, according to Tages Anzeiger newspaper.

Most of the new companies work in the information and communication technology sector, the life sciences, the machine industry, and financial services. The majority are from the United States, Germany, and China.

New storage measures may boost Switzerland’s vaccination numbers 

After a decision of regulatory authority Swissmedic, the Pfizer / BioNtech corona vaccine no longer has to be stored permanently in special freezers in Switzerland. 

Newly submitted stability data reviewed by the authority shows that the quality is guaranteed for up to two weeks, even at deep-freeze temperatures between -25C and -15C. 

Due to the fact the vaccine no longer has to be stored in special refrigerators, doctors’ practices and pharmacies can now also administer the vaccine. 

Swissmedic hopes that this will enable the vaccination rate to be increased in Switzerland.

Only the Pfizer/BioNtech and Moderna vaccines are currently being used in Switzerland, with Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine being approved but will not be purchased by the Swiss government. 

READ MORE: Johnson and Johnson deny vaccine will be available privately in Switzerland

Zurich installs larger rubbish bins due to take away packaging

The onset of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown has led to an increase in take away food consumption. 

Zurich authorities have responded by installing new waste receptacles with larger openings and capacity to take more take away trash – and make sure it doesn’t end up on the street. 

The “Züri-Bucket 110 liters” are now gradually being installed where there is a need.

Switzerland approves Roche self-tests – will be rolled out in pharmacies from April 7th

Switzerland has finally approved the coronavirus self-tests made by Swiss pharma company Roche. 

Now, the self-tests – which were originally planned to be available in Swiss pharmacies from mid-March – will be available to the general public from April 7th. 

The delay was due to concerns that the tests may not be accurate enough, but Swiss authorities now say they are convinced. 

Swissmedic has however warned that self-tests from abroad should not be used as they may be unreliable

Swiss residents are entitled to five free tests per month. 

The ‘rapid tests’ use a sample from the front of the nose instead of the larynx, making them more comfortable and easy to use. 

Results are available in 15 minutes. 

 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

COVID-19

Switzerland: How likely is another Covid-19 wave this fall?

Over the border in France, experts say a new wave of Covid in autumn is 'virtually certain', but in Switzerland authorities seem less worried.

Switzerland: How likely is another Covid-19 wave this fall?

After a relative lull in the pandemic in the spring, Covid-19 cases surged at the beginning of the summer, driven by new, fast-spreading Omicron sub-variants.

The weekly reports on the epidemiological situation from the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) show that the number of new cases kept steadily increasing until about the middle of July, when it peaked at about 56,000 new cases reported in Switzerland in a single week.

From then on, the numbers have been dropping steadily, with 18,204 new infections recorded this week.

What can we expect in the coming weeks and months?

One thing we have learned in the past two and a half years is that coronaviruses are unpredictable, and their evolution (or the emergence of new sub-variants) can’t be forecast with a high degree of certainty.

For instance, health experts did not foresee this summer’s outbreak, believing – based on the experiences of previous waves – that infections are more common in the autumn and winter when cold weather drives people indoors.

READ MORE: ‘Over a million people’ in Switzerland could be infected with Covid this summer

It is also difficult to predict what new sub-variants and mutations could emerge in the future, or what properties they will have.

Next wave and hospitals

Health officials in neighbouring France believe that a surge of Covid cases in the autumn is ‘virtually certain’.

Given the geographic proximity and the flow of people between the two countries, it is reasonable to expect the same scenario to unfold in Switzerland as well.

However, Swiss experts say they believe that even if there is a new wave, most people will have only mild or moderate symptoms.

“The most recent data shows that 97 percent of the adult population in Switzerland has antibodies against Covid thanks to vaccinations and previous infections”, said Tanya Stadler, former head of the Covid-19 Task Force.

Based on the current evolution and forecasts, authorities say they don’t expect the health system to be overloaded with new Covid patients.

This is because “circulating sub-variants of Omicron do not cause more severe forms of the disease than the previous sub-variants”, the government said.

Vaccines

A second booster shot of the Covid vaccine (representing a fourth dose for most people) is already available to people in high-risk groups, but while authorities are urging people to get vaccinated, they also say that if Omicron remains the dominant variant, no mass vaccinations will be needed in the near future.

“The current vaccine does not provide clear protection against the Omicron”, according to Giuseppe Pantaleo, head of the immunology unit at Vaud university hospital (CHUV).

That may change soon, however: both Pfizer and Moderna have asked Switzerland’s drug regulatory body, Swissmedic, to authorise their Omicron-adapted vaccines.

The agency is now reviewing the applications but once approved,  the new vaccines are expected to be used for the second round of booster shots, with the rollout for general public to begin sometime in the fall.

READ MORE: Covid boosters not available in Switzerland until autumn

SHOW COMMENTS