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

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 Monday
Smelly Swiss cheese that's conquering the world. Photo Barmettler Molkerei.

Better tests to detect coronavirus immunity

After a coronavirus infection or vaccination, the body produces antibodies. However, it is not known how long the immune protection lasts.

Current serological tests can indicate the presence or absence of antibodies in the blood, but not the quality of immune protection.

Now researchers from the Vaud university hospital (CHUV) and the Polytechnic Institute of Lausanne (EPFL) have developed a more refined test that can identify the degree of immunity.

The objective of the test is to monitor the effect of vaccination in individuals to know whether, and when, to re-vaccinate or give boosters, and determine the necessity to adopt the vaccines to the new variants in circulation.

Swiss doctors and pharmacists launch their own Covid certificate

Although the government has been working on an internationally-recognized “immunity card” to be introduced this summer,  the Federation of Swiss Doctors (FMH) and the umbrella organisation of pharmacists PharmaSuisse are launching their own Covid certificate for those who have been vaccinated or recovered from the disease.

“Waiting for the government’s version is likely to be very costly. We will be ready in a month at the latest “, said PharmaSuisse President Martine Ruggli.

READ MORE: UPDATED: Everything you need to know about the ‘green pass’, Switzerland’s coronavirus immunity card

Switzerland is facing new disease outbreak — from the tiger mosquito

While it is dealing with the Covid pandemic, the country must now turn its attention to preventing tropical diseases borne by the tiger mosquito.

In certain regions, including Ticino, the population of this invasive species is so large that MP Sarah Wyss is asking the government to implement effective measures to combat these mosquitos and prevent tropical diseases they could bring to Switzerland, as they had done in Croatia, Italy, southern France and Spain.

“It is  obvious that the spread of this mosquito species will pose a major threat to our population”, Wyss said.

These critters could bring tropical diseases to Switzerland. Photo by VALERY HACHE / AFP

Return to normality in the summer

If 50 percent of the population receive the two doses of the vaccine, Switzerland “will experience a return to normal life in the summer”, according to Steve Pascolo, immunologist at the University Hospital Zurich.

The prospects for a “normal” summer are realistic not only because Switzerland is speeding up its inoculation campaign, but also due to the kind of vaccines it uses.

Moderna and Pfizer /Biontech, both of which use the so-called mRNA technology, are effective against new variants, Pascolo said.

He based his prediction on what has happened in Israel, “a country of the same size as ours, which has used this type of vaccines and has been experiencing a return to normality for the past month, while in some parts of the world, including India and Turkey, which have used other vaccines, Covid variants are wreaking havoc”.

Smelly Swiss cheese is conquering the world

The “Stanser Fladä” has a strong smell and, at least to some, may not look very appetising: when you cut through the crust,  the cheese mass flows out viscously.

“Its smell is intense. Those who prefer to eat only mild cheese will not appreciate it”, said Stanser Fladä’s inventor, Sepp Barmettler.

Yet, this raw-milk cheese from the town of Stans, in canton Nidwalden, has fans all over the world, including in Japan, Australia and the USA, where a 350-gramme wheel sells for 40 dollars.

And it is appreciated locally as well. At the Alpine market in Stans, the cheese-makers in the region paid tribute to Barmettler as a “role model for young cheese-makers across the country”.

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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For members


Today in Switzerland: A roundup 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 roundup of the latest news on Tuesday
MPs debate tax breaks for childcare services. Photo by Rashid Sadykov on Unsplash

Geneva vaccination centres will remain open despite USA-Russia summit

Although certain parts of the city will be shut on Wednesday due to the meeting this week between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin, health authorities have said that Geneva’s vaccination facilities will continue to operate.

Even if some modifications will have to be made, “their impact will be minimal”, according to the cantonal pharmacist Nathalie Vernaz-Hegi.

READ MORE: Historic Swiss lakeside villa spruced up for Biden-Putin talks

Night trains and buses will resume their activity in July

Suspended since November, following the Federal Council’s decision to close restaurants at 11 pm, public transportation has not, or rarely, operated during the night since that time.
This is set to change in July, especially as there are now enough train drivers, particularly in the German-speaking Switzerland.
Shortages still remain in the French-speaking areas, as well as Ticino, but they should be resolved by fall.

Parents might be able to deduct more taxes for daycare costs

The parliament is debating about increasing the deduction for childcare costs, from 6,500 to 10,000 francs.

MP Christa Markwalder proposed this motion, arguing that it would allow a better reconciliation of professional and family life, as well as better integration of women into the labour market.

Opponents, however, claim  that such a deduction would lead to considerable tax losses, without having any positive effect on equality between men and women.

However, the proposal has every chance of succeeding, supporters say.

READ MORE: How to decide where to live in Switzerland based on affordability

Deportations of foreign criminals should be improved for minor cases, MPs say

The National Council has widely adopted a motion proposing several changes to criminal law relating to the expulsion of foreigners who commit crimes in Switzerland,

The motion proposes three options.

Firstly, the Public Prosecutor’s Office should be empowered to order expulsion in minor cases. Today, only a court can make this decision.

Secondly, foreign defendants without a residence permit or who entered Switzerland solely with the intention of committing a crime, should no longer be entitled to a defense.

Finally, the list of offenses must be re-examined to exclude minor ones; this includes contraventions leading to compulsory expulsion, in particular when they were committed by young foreigners who grew up in Switzerland.

Swiss residents opt to invest their money in pension funds

People in Switzerland have a marked preference for placing their money in pension funds and life insurance over other investment options, according to a study by Boston Consulting Group.

The study showed that the two investment vehicles accounted for 41 percent of the estimated $3.3 trillion of financial wealth in 2020.

Next — 32 percent — are deposits in foreign currencies, followed by equities and investment funds (23 percent).

At the end of 2020, the share of Swiss financial assets was more than 6 percent of  Western Europe’s.

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]