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

Today in Switzerland: A round-up of the latest news on Wednesday
There's some complex math in that train. Phoro by Fabrine Coffrini / AFP
Find out what's going on in Switzerland today with The Local's short round-up of the news.

Swiss-French more reluctant to get Covid shots

People in the French-speaking part of the country are more skeptical of coronavirus vaccines than their Swiss-German counterparts, a new survey shows.

Nearly 20 percent of French speakers said they were opposed to vaccination — primarily due to concerns over the vaccine’s efficacy and safety —  against 10 percent in the rest of the country, according to a new study carried out by Sotomo Research Institute.

In terms of the types of vaccine used, the population has a clear preference for messenger RNA technology, which is found in the Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna vaccines currently on the market.

However, most respondents would like to be able to choose for themselves what kind of vaccine to use, which is currently not the case in Switzerland.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Why Switzerland doesn’t vaccinate seven days a week

War of the masks

Discount retailers Lidl and Aldi are trying to outdo each other with rock-bottom prices they charge for the FFP2 face masks, which are believed to offer more protection than conventional models.

Aldi said it would sell 50 pieces for 29.90 francs, and a pack of 10 for 7.99. That makes around 60 cents a piece.

However, Lidl immediately announced its own price reductions, offering masks for 59 cents, regardless of the packaging size.

By comparison, Migros, Coop and Denner sell FFP2 masks for 89 cents on average.

Lidl and Aldi said they intend to keep mask prices permanently low.


More punctual trains thanks to mathematics

It is not just a coincidence that trains in Switzerland run on time.

Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) uses algorithms to improve punctuality of its trains.

To ensure that they are on schedule and arrive at their destination on time, SBB employs a mathematician who designed special algorithms to keep trains on track.

These algorithms “automatically combine and optimise the information of the schedule with that of the speed”, the mathematician, Thomas Graffagnino, said in SBB’s press release.

The project is quite complex and requires meticulous attention to detail.

“Two hours before departure, systems with optimised speed data automatically identify the main operating points where trains are running by following each other closely, at risk of getting in the way. This means that the schedule should be adhered to as much as possible. Then the system calculates the recommended speeds at which the train must travel in order to stay on schedule, if the departure was punctual”, Graffagnino said.

So getting the trains to run on time is much more than just a matter of luck and good Swiss watches.

“Onion socks” that keep your feet warm

If you think there’s nothing new under the sun, read this:

An entrepreneur in Flumserberg (SG) came up with a natural — though unusual — way to keep the feet warm in cold weather: she is manufacturing socks with an inside pocket, where onion slices can be  placed.

“Thanks to these socks, the onion slices lie directly on the surface of the feet and do not slip”, the Mo-Socks’ founder told the Swiss media.  

Onions, she noted, have anti-inflammatory, germ-killing, antibacterial, and pain-relieving properties and have been used for centuries to treat ailments such as sore throats, ear infections, insect bites — and now cold feet.

The pandemic might be a particularly opportune time to wear onion socks, as close social interactions are discouraged.

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

Become a Member to leave a comment.Or login here.