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

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 Tuesday
(Photo by Piero Cruciatti / AFP)

From free tests to growing anti-coronavirus protests, here’s the news that’s fit to print this morning. 

Free coronavirus tests in Swiss pharmacies from tomorrow morning

From Wednesday, April 7th, free coronavirus tests will be made available in Swiss pharmacies.

Each resident will be entitled to five free of these ‘home tests’ each month, as part of Switzerland’s mass screening scheme.

The tests were originally planned to be available in Swiss pharmacies from mid-March. 

UPDATE: Is all coronavirus testing now free in Switzerland?

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

Temperatures set to drop across Switzerland

The mercury is set to plunge all across Switzerland as a result of a cold front which will cross into Switzerland on Tuesday night. 

Snowfalls and sub-zero temperatures are expected. 

On Tuesday, we can expect -2 degrees in the west and to -4 degrees in eastern Switzerland. 

Overnight, the temperatures are set to fall to between -2 and -8 depending on the location. 

Daily maximums are expected to rise to a maximum of 3. 

The cold front will stick around until Friday, potentially bringing warmer temperatures for the weekend. 

Growth in ‘anti-coronavirus movement’ despite banning of protests

The coronavirus sceptic movement is growing Switzerland, despite the more frequent banning of protests, newspaper Le Temps reported on Tuesday. 

While initial protests were largely confined to Zurich and Bern, recent demonstrations have broken out in smaller cantons, with some 3,600 people in Aargau in February, around 6,000 in Graubünden in early March and more than 8,000 in Liestal on March 20.

Initially largely a phenomenon in German-speaking Switzerland, the protests have also become more common in French-speaking Switzerland, the newspaper reported. Over the Easter weekend, 200 people protested in the town of Sion. 

Fitness centres sue Swiss government 

The Swiss Federation of Fitness Centers (FSCFS) has filed a complaint against the Swiss government for its closure of gyms and training facilities due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Arguing that the closures have been “disproportionate”, the FSCFS wants the Swiss government to pay the fitness centres to compensate for their losses due to the “arbitrary forced closures”.

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

Though Covid has not been a nationwide problem in Switzerland during recent several months, the virus is circulating again and rates of contamination are expected to soar in the coming weeks.

'Over a million people' in Switzerland could be infected with Covid this summer

While the new wave has not been expected to hit before fall or winter,  Swiss health officials now say 15 percent of Swiss population — more than 1 million people — could catch the virus before then.

This is a large number, considering that a total of 3.7 million people in Switzerland got infected since the beginning of the pandemic on February 24th, 2020.

“More than 80,000 new contaminations per week” are expected in the next two months, according to Tanja Stadler, the former head of the Covid-19 Task Force — much more than during the past two summers, when the rate of infections slowed down.

At the moment, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) reports 24,704 new cases in the past seven days — double of what it was in April.

“The numbers are expected to continue to rise. Note that most of infected people will not be tested, so the number of confirmed cases will be smaller on paper than in reality”, Stadler added.

Although according to FOPH, nearly all cases in Switzerland (99 percent) are caused by Omicron and its sub-variants, which are less severe that the original Covid viruses, “more vulnerable people are likely to end up in hospital, and long Covid cases are also likely to rise”, she said.

Stadler also noted that Omicron virus can’t be compared with the flu, “because we observe long-term consequences much more often during an infection with Omicron than during the flu. Also, Covid can trigger very large waves, even in summer, while large flu outbreaks are rare at this time of year”.

There is, however, some positive news.

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

Also, “in the long term, things will stabilise. But in the years to come, there will probably be waves in the summer too”.

READ MORE: UPDATE: When will Switzerland roll out second Covid boosters?