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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
Filling up a car with petrol is getting more expensive. Photo by Erik McLean / Pexels

Intensive care units in Swiss hospitals are filling up quickly

As an increasing number of people get infected with coronavirus, hospitals throughout the country are reaching their full capacities — a situation that has not happened since the height of the pandemic in 2020.

At the moment, 215 Covid patients are treated in hospitals, occupying 77 percent of beds in ICUs. And the trend is on the rise, officials report.

Having reached its limits, Vaud’s university hospital (CHUV) already had to transfer several Covid patients to other hospitals in the canton,

The nationwide coordinating health service operated by the army confirms that the situation is similar in several cantons: beds in intensive care units are scarce.

“These are not just isolated cases”, said Rudolf Hauri, Zug’s  cantonal doctor.

And Basel University Hospital has already started delaying elective surgeries to make room for coronavirus patients,  while St. Gallen’s cantonal hospital  is no longer scheduling new operations.

 READ MORE: Swiss hospitals: Sharp increase in the number of Covid patients in intensive care

Geneva’s hospital could implement vaccine requirements for future employees

This is what Bertrand Levrat, the director of Geneva University Hospitals (HUG) will propose to the institution’s board of directors, arguing that hospitals have the obligation to protect the health of employees and patients alike.

While some, including lawyer Philippe Ducor, say such a move “doesn’t fit into Swiss legal culture”, others support this measure.

“It seems obvious that healthcare workers must protect themselves and their patients,” said HUG board member Roger Deneys.

The unions, for their part, reiterate their opposition to compulsory vaccination, considering it to be “unjustified discrimination”.

While forcing employees to be vaccinated is against the law in Switzerland, some companies engage in this practice, including the natonal airline, SWISS.

READ MORE: Swiss airlines makes Covid vaccination compulsory for pilots and cabin crew

And these are the most and least competitive Swiss cantons

UBS Bank’s new Cantonal Competitiveness Index 2021 rates the long-term growth potential of various Swiss cantons, based on 56 criteria.

This year, Zug ranks in the first place as the most competitive canton. Basel-City and Zurich are in second and third place, respectively.

The cantons of Aargau, Schwyz and Vaud are also highly competitive, though they trail behind the three winners.  

On the other hand, two half-cantons of Appenzell, as well as Glarus, Uri, Bern, Ticino and Neuchâtel have “a moderate growth potential”, according to UBS analysts

At the end are the Alpine cantons of Graubünden and Valais, as well as Jura, which “show a lower competitive potential compared to the other cantons”, the study found.

You can see the complete ranking here.

Bye, bye summer, see you (hopefully) next year

Today and in the coming days, temperatures across most of Switzerland will drop, and there may even be snowfall in the mountains, according to predictions of the SRF weather service.

Snow at high altitudes is not unusual for the end of the summer, though this year’s season was less “summery” than in previous years, with repeated heavy rains that caused flooding across much of the county during July.

“Climate tax”: Petrol in Switzerland could get more expensive

Motorists who refuel their vehicles are already paying 1.5 cents more per litre for climate protection measures.

The National Council’s environmental commission wants to impose the surcharge of 5 cents per litre, even though Swiss voters rejected the “CO2 law” in a June referendum.

This increase means that petrol could cost 3.5 cents more per litre. 

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 Tuesday

Swiss workers need wage rises and rent prices rise in Zurich in the latest roundup of news from Switzerland on Tuesday.

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

Swiss workers should get wage increase of ‘up to 5 percent in 2023’

Trade Union Travail Suisse has demanded a general wage rise of between 3 and 5 percent for all workers in the country in 2023.

The rise would allow workers to cope with the rising cost of living in the country as well as to compensate workers for an increase in productivity.

Thomas Bauer an economist from Travail Suisse argues that Switzerland’s economy is in good health at the moment but workers have seen little benefit in terms of wage rises. They have only see prices rise and stress levels increase.

“That has to change urgently,” he said.

That argument was echoed by Johann Tscherrig from the Syna trade union who said: “All workers must get their fair share of the fruits of growth” as they work “to the maximum of their abilities”.

READ ALSO: FACT CHECK: How accurate are the ‘five reasons not to move to Switzerland’?

Rent prices stable in July but increase in Zurich

Rent prices in Switzerland did not see an increase last month for the first time in a year, according to the property site Homegate.

But although July saw prices stagnate or even sightly decrease, the bigger picture shows that rents continue to rise, especially in Switzerland’s cities.

Over the last year they have increased 2 percent in Switzerland as a whole and as much as 6.4 percent in Zurich.

The canton of Graubünden saw a 4.3 percent rise compared to last year whilst rents in the cantons of Nidwalden (+7.3%) and Schwyz (+4.7%) also rose steeply.

Homegate put the general rise down to the fact that “both the number of vacant homes and the number of building permit applications are down, while demand remains high due to immigration.”

READ ALSO: REVEALED: Where in Europe have house prices and rent costs increased the most?

Wolf population in Alps growing exponentially

The number of wolves in the Alps continues to grow but there are concerns that available habitat will soon become too restricted as the population of the wild animal grows exponentially.

The organisation Groupe Loup Suisse (Swiss Wolf group) said the wolf population across the Alps was growing by 25 percent to 30 percent each year.

With around 300 wolf packs living in the Alps this summer the population has occupied around half the habitable area – given that each wolf pack needs around 250 square kilometres of territory on average.

Groupe Loup Suisse estimates therefore that the Alps has around enough space for a viable population of 800 packs.

The organisation believes it’s vital to implement measures to better protect livestock from wolf attacks.

READ ALSO: Swiss organisation again calls for volunteers to scare wolves away

Chimney sweepers in high demand

The high oil and gas prices are scaring Swiss homeowners and many are not getting ready to heat their homes with wood, broadcaster SRF reported.

With that, chimney sweep services are more sought after than ever, with businesses booked weeks ahead, especially in rural areas, where wood stoves and fireplaces are more common. But inquiries from homeowners in larger cities are also increasing, the head of the Association of chimney sweeps Switzerland Paul Grässli says.

He reminds people to have their fireplaces and stoves checked regularly by professionals to avoid accidents. “If the fireplace has not been used for years, it could be dangerous, he says.

READ ALSO: How can you save on your household energy bills in Switzerland?