For members


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

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 Monday
Some doctors say home tests are not reliable.Photo by LOUISA GOULIAMAKI / AFP

Covid self-tests are not accurate, some doctors claim

Each Swiss resident is entitled to five free self-tests per month.

But  Nicolas Vuilleumier, the head of service at the University Hospitals of Geneva (HUG), who is also president of the umbrella organisation of medical laboratories in Switzerland, said that due to their lack of sensitivity, these tests are not reliable screening tools.

“We will have problems of false negatives which will arise in relatively large proportions”, Vuilleumier warned in an interview with RTS public broadcaster.

The risk, he added, is that infected people will be “falsely reassured by a negative result” and not practice the health measures like wearing of masks and keeping distance.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about Switzerland’s free coronavirus tests for every resident

Swiss unemployment rate dropped in March

The rate fell to 3.4  percent from  3.6 percent in February, according to the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

As SECO’s map shows, cantons in western Switzerland have the highest unemployment rate, though each experienced a decrease in March.

Geneva is still in the lead in regards to the proportion of unemployed people: 5.5 percent, 0.2 percent less than in the previous month. Next is Jura (5.4 percent, -0.3).  

Neuchâtel posted a sharp decline, from 5.1 percent to 4.7 percent. Vaud also fell (4.6 percent, -0.3). But the biggest drop was recorded in Valais, which fell from 4.5 percent to 3.7 percent. Fribourg is approaching the national average, but remains above it with 3.5 percent (- 0.3).

Swiss People’s Party demands total re-opening of the economy

The right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) is calling for re-openings, from April 19th, of restaurants, as well as cultural, sport and leisure activities, according to SonntagsZeitung.

In principle, other parties support the measure, but say April 19th might be too early.

“The conditions for rapid openings are there”, noted national Liberal councilor Daniela Schneeberger

But Leo Müller from Christian Democratic Party pointed out that April 19th “may be a bit early”, suggesting beginning of May instead. .

Controls stepped up after foreign tourists get vaccinated in two cantons

Tourists and foreigners not residing in Switzerland were able get Covid shots in Valais and Graubünden.

Both inadvertently vaccinated a number of tourists from abroad in ski resorts, as well as foreigners who own homes in the cantons.

Authorities are stepping up controls by verifying phone numbers and home addresses of people who register online for an appointment, excluding not only foreign tourists but also those living in other cantons. An exception is made for cross-border workers working in the health sector.

Migros discontinues selling some Rivella products

Switzerland’s largest supermarket chain has unceremoniously taken Rivella products off the shelves in order to pressure the manufacturer of the iconic Swiss beverage to lower its prices.

This action currently affects Rivella green tea, as well as Rivella Refresh and Focuswater.  The classic red and blue Rivella are still available for the time being.

“Unfortunately we have not yet been able to reach an agreement and as a first step we had to temporarily remove some of the supplier’s items from the range that did not meet our price expectations”, Migros said.

In the past, retailers obtained price reductions by stopping orders. But according to Rivella, Migros has asked for prices that the manufacturer cannot accept.

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]

Member comments

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


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.