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

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 Thursday
New summer trend: cheese fondue. Photo by STEFAN WERMUTH / AFP

Geneva first canton to require tests for unvaccinated healthcare workers

People employed in the medical sector in Geneva — including those working in elderly care homes — who refuse to get inoculated against Covid, will have to get frequent tests, the canton’s health director Mauri Poggia announced.

“It is the responsibility of the institution not to leave vulnerable patients in doubt as to the potential dangers represented by the unvaccinated caregivers”, he said, adding that Geneva will be the first canton to impose this measure in Switzerland.

Vaccinated people are 80 times less likely to be infected

A new analysis carried out in the canton of Vaud found that Covid vaccines are highly effective in preventing infection: those who are not immunised are 80 times more likely to catch the virus.

For the fully vaccinated, only 2.6 cases of contamination were detected per 100,000 inhabitants. However, this figure jumped to 216 /100,000  among those who didn’t get their shots.

Government considering Covid booster shot this fall

In Israel, people over 65 are already being vaccinated for the third time. In Germany, this will be the case from September.

But the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) recently said the third shot will not be administered to groups at risk before early in 2022.

However, Switzerland is now looking at starting booster shots in the fall, according to Virginie Masserey, head of FOPH’s infection control unit.

She did say, however, that Switzerland will take a different approach to deciding when to administer third doses.

“This decision must be taken on the basis of clear and proven facts. Israel’s is based solely on observations. We are awaiting scientific data”.

The good news is that subsequent boosters — fourth and fifth doses — will probably not be needed.

“This scenario is highly unlikely. With the current variants, even Delta, the vaccine should be sufficiently effective after a third injection”, according to University of Lausanne immunologist Daniel Speiser.

READ MORE: UPDATE: Switzerland planning for Covid booster shots in winter

Travel: One in ten passengers turned away at Swiss airports

Depending on entry requirements at the destination country — such as the vaccination certificate or negative test result— Zurich, Geneva and Basel airports turn away a number of departing passengers who don’t have adequate documentation.

This is especially the case on long haul flights, where one in 10 passengers was not allowed to board, according to Blick.

As Zurich Airport is one of the most important transit “hubs” in Europe, many passengers find themselves stranded there. They have two options: either to spend a few days in Switzerland, or to take a flight back to their country of origin. In both cases, the bill is steep.

Being stranded at the airport is not fun. Photo by Eitan ABRAMOVICH / AFP

Say “cheese”

Summer is normally the season of barbecues, but heavy rains that swept Switzerland throughout the month of July have driven many people indoors.

Their food preference has changed as well, from hot meat to hot melted cheese.

Cheese merchants report that due to inclement weather which ruled out outdoor cookouts on many days, sales of raclette and fondue cheese increased in the past month — an unusual occurrence in July.

READ MORE: Can I have a barbecue on my balcony in Switzerland?

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: 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