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SWITZERLAND

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
Potatoes and cabbage: the truth we may not wsnt to know about chocolate. Phoro by Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

Beware of fake emails from the “government”

A number of emails impersonating federal authorities are currently circulating in Switzerland, according to GovCER, the official national cybersecurity cell.

The agency is warning recipients not to answer these messages, reporting them instead on this site.

This is the latest attempt at sending fake emails to random people in Switzerland, including those allegedly from law enforcement agencies or banks.

Security glitches on vaccination platform are fixed

Nearly a month after www.meineimpfungen.ch / www.mesvaccins.ch website was closed due to massive flaws in the platform’s security, the problems have now been resolved.

“All security gaps had been identified and fixed,” said spokesperson Nicole Bürki.

The website, which allows people to create an electronic version of their paper vaccination record, will go live again as soon as the government and the Federal Office of Public Health give a green light.

It was closed on March 24th, after it was discovered that data of about 450,000 registered users, including 240,000 who were vaccinated against Covid, may have been compromised and potentially exploited by criminals.

Vaccinated people may be exempted from quarantine

Those who are fully vaccinated will in the future be exempted from the quarantine requirement for six months.

“Based on the scientific data,  we have come to the conclusion that people fully vaccinated with the mRNA vaccine can forego quarantine for six months if they come into contact with an infected person”, said Christoph Berger, President of the Federal Commission for Vaccination Issues.

Pfizer / Biontech and Moderna vaccines, which are used in Switzerland’s inoculation programme, both use the mRNA technology.

However, the exemption would not initially apply to travellers returning from countries at risk, Berger said.

Scientists reveal shocking truth behind Swiss chocolate

There are apparently pressing matters other than coronavirus that preoccupy Swiss scientists these days. Like, what odours are predominant in chocolate.

This is what researchers from the Institute of Food and Beverage Innovation in Wädenswil (ZH) are busy studying.

“To date, over 500 volatile compounds have been identified in cocoa and chocolate. Ultimately, however, only a few aromatic substances contribute significantly to the characteristic chocolate aroma”, the Institute said.

Chocolate lovers may be unpleasantly surprised to learn that among main aromas identified are potato, cabbage, and beetroot.

“Interestingly, there is not a single compound that smells like cocoa”, the study concluded.

READ MORE: Swiss chocolate consumption falls to 40-year low in pandemic

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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SWITZERLAND

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. 

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