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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

Today in Switzerland: A roundup 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 roundup of the latest news on Monday
Biden wished Parmelin Happy National Day. Photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko / POOL / AFP

Contaminated tests cause slowdown in Covid screening

Twelve cantons are not able to carry out widespread coronavirus screening since the saline solution contained in the tubes for saliva tests is contaminated with germs.

Regulatory drug agency Swissmedic has not yet approved replacement products.

Hundreds of thousands of kits, distributed by pharmaceutical supplier  Disposan, were withdrawn from some testing  centres in Zurich, Bern, Aargau, Lucerne, Graubünden, Schwyz, Glarus, Jura, Fribourg, Zug, Schaffhausen and Thurgau.

Swiss website pays ransom to hackers

Popular consumer site Comparis.ch was hacked on July 7th, and hackers demanded payment to restore the website.

While Comparis initially said it would not give in to the ransom demands, it now paid an estimated 363,000 francs in cryptocurrency, according to reports in Schweiz am Wochenende.

“Some essential files were encrypted by hackers and we could only recover them with great effort”, Comparis.ch spokesperson Andrea Auer said.

However, damage caused by the hackers is reportedly greater than expected and customers have received emails urging them to change their passwords.

Geneva statistics show huge disparities in wealth of residents

Geneva’s Cantonal Statistical Office (OCSTAT)  has released figures showing the wealth of married couples living in various communities throughout the canton.

The numbers are from 2018, the latest available.

As the chart below shows, the wealthiest couples, with the net worth of 1.3 million francs, live in the Geneva countryside commune of  Vandœuvres, while those with least wealth  (about 50,000) live in urban Vernier.

The median wealth per couple is about 180,000 francs, and residents of most communes exceed that figure.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How applying for social benefits could see your Swiss work permit cancelled

Holiday traffic: 12 km-long bottlenecks at Gotthard tunnel

As more Swiss tourists (as well as those transiting through Switzerland) are heading south to Italy, traffic jams are forming at the north portal of the Gotthard tunnel, between Erstfeld and Göschenen (UR). This corresponds to wait time of two hours.

While the condition is worst during the weekends, jams also happen during the week, slowing down south-bound traffic considerably.

To avoid being stuck in long lines at the tunnel, Touring Club Suisse (TCS) recommends checking  current traffic conditions here.

America sends wishes to Switzerland

US President Joe Biden sent his best wishes to his Swiss counterpart Guy Parmelin on the occasion of National Day on August 1st.

“Switzerland is a good friend and a partner of the United States”, Biden said. “Our nations are united by our common democratic values, our respect for the rule of law and our commitment to protect fundamental rights, but also by our close trade and economic ties”.

Biden again thanked Switzerland for hosting the summit meeting between him and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva in June.

“Switzerland makes an invaluable contribution to diplomacy and to world peace,” he added.

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

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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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Friday

Heating with wood to become more expensive, redacted vaccine contracts, and other Swiss news in our roundup on Thursday.

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Friday

Heating with wood is starkly more expensive

It’s not only the prices for fossil fuels, oil and gas that have risen sharply in Switzerland. Even those who rely on alternative energies such as wood as a fuel currently have to dig deeper into their wallets, SRF reported.

The pellets made from pressed sawdust are 46 percent more expensive than a year ago. “In general, we can summarise that the increase is due to higher production costs,” said Peter Lehmann, President of the “proPellets” Association. In addition to processing, wood is also more expensive.

Last year, almost 50 percent more pellet-based heating systems were built than in 2020, which has increased the demand for pellets. However, Lehmann assumes that the price will not decrease in the medium term; wood as a raw material is too much in demand in the current situation.

READ ALSO: Five of the biggest challenges facing Switzerland right now

Swiss government publishes redacted vaccine contracts

After a long period of resistance, the Swiss government disclosed the vaccine purchase contracts. Before that, however, it had redacted them out extensively, Watson reported.

The authorities have kept it a secret even the duration of secrecy, so the Swiss won’t know how long it will take until they can see the complete contracts. The lack of transparency has brought on criticism against the government.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Why vaccinations are not mandatory in Switzerland

Almost 10 percent of Ukrainian refugees have found jobs in Switzerland

A total of 9.4 percent of adults possessing a special “S” permit are working, with most employed in the restaurant sector, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) said.

Nearly a quarter of them (23 percent) are active in the restaurant industry. In addition, 17 percent work in the “planning, consulting, IT” sector. Agriculture and education each account for 8 percent of those with the S status.

There are currently 61 424 status S applications in Switzerland, of which 59 411 persons have been granted S status, SEM said.

READ ALSO: 200,000 in 2022: Immigration fuelling Swiss population surge

Federal Council wants to decide on sanction policy in August

Switzerland’s Federal Council wants to discuss whether or not to adopt the so-called “thematic” sanctions of the European Union, Tagesanzeiger said.

These sanctions work differently than those imposed on a specific country. Instead, they allow measures to be taken against individuals, companies and organisations from different countries that violate certain rights. They are primarily concerned about violations regarding chemical weapons, cyber and human rights.

Specifically, in March 2021, the EU decided to sanction some persons, organisations and institutions from North Korea, Libya, Eritrea, South Sudan, Russia and China for serious human rights violations.

The controversial decision could lead to Switzerland sanctioning China, with Minister of Economic Affairs Guy Parmelin against adopting the measures.

READ ALSO: Switzerland bans imports of Russian gold

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