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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
Uninsured cross-border workers, here at the Swiss-Italian border, could be eligible for vaccinations in Switzerland. Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA /AFP

Fewer vaccinated patients in Swiss hospitals

Based on research by public broadcaster RTS, the number of Covid hospitalisations of fully vaccinated people in Switzerland is approximately 12 times lower than that of the unvaccinated.

For the period RTS analysed — July 1st to August 15th, there were 8.3 hospitalisations per million among those who had both shots. In contrast, this number 105.9 per million for the unvaccinated patients.

These numbers are confirmed by the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), which found that hospital admissions of vaccinated people remain relatively rare.

READ MORE: UPDATE: What is the risk of catching Covid and getting sick in Switzerland if you are vaccinated?

Switzerland to extend vaccinations to uninsured cross-border workers

Until now, only people living in Switzerland, as well as cross-border workers with Swiss health insurance, had the possibility of being vaccinated in the country.

The only uninsured cross-border workers who were entitled to a vaccination in Switzerland were those in the healthcare sector. 

Now the Federal Council wants to grant access to vaccination to people “with a close link with Switzerland”, including all uninsured cross-border commuters, “since they are regularly in Switzerland and may influence the evolution of the pandemic”.

Inoculation would also be extended to Swiss citizens living abroad and their immediate families — even if they don’t have health insurance in Switzerland. The Federal Council will take make decision on August 25th.

Reader question: Can cross-border workers get vaccinated in Switzerland?

A rare but serious complication of Covid discovered

Swiss doctors report that a small number of patients have been left paralysed after contracting the virus.

So far, at least nine people in Switzerland are known to be affected by this affliction as a result of a Covid infection.

Xavier Jordan,  chief medical officer at a rehabilitation clinic in Sion (Valais) , which is treating some of these patients, said that “they were initially admitted to the emergency room with signs of paralysis but were later found to be carriers of the virus”.

“They suffered permanent damage and will need to use a wheelchair for life.”

The cause could only be the virus, the doctors concluded, after ruling out all other possible hypotheses.

However, the Paraplegic Centre at Balgrist University Hospital in Zurich, reported a happier outcome: “After extensive rehabilitation and intensive respiratory training, all patients were able to walk again,” said Chief Medical Officer Armin Curt.

All agree that this is an extremely rare complication.  “We don’t know the frequency, nor the risk factors. It will probably be years before we have reliable research results on this subject”, Jordan noted.

READ MORE: Which Swiss cantons are already offering Covid booster shots?

Switzerland won’t take in large numbers of Afghan refugees

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan could see huge numbers of people try to flee the country, but Switzerland has no immediate plans to take in massive numbers of refugees.

For the moment, Bern is planning to admit only local employees of its temporarily closed Kabul cooperation office, along with their immediate families, totaling 230 people.

“These people are probably considered collaborators of the West and they are in danger”, noted Karin Keller-Sutter, head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police.

These people are still waiting to be evacuated but civilian planes can’t land at Kabul airport at the moment.

But  airlift “is the easiest, fastest and least bureaucratic way to bring them in”, Keller-Sutter said.

Geneva under pressure to remove ammunition from its lake

Lake Geneva is picturesque, but what lurks beneath its surface is not pretty.

Ammunition crates that were found there have to be hauled up and inventoried by the canton.

Discovered in May 2019, a submerged arsenal depot is the result of inert ammunition and unused cartridges being dumped into the lake between the 1950s and 1970s.

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