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

Geneva’s housing prices are high, but there is a lot of demand for properties here.
Despite high prices, many Geneva properties were snapped up in the past three months. Photo by Xavier von Erlach on Unsplash
Find out what's going on today in Switzerland with The Local's short roundup of the news.

New Delta sub-variant has been detected in Switzerland

The so-called “Delta Plus” strain, first detected in the UK in July 2021, has now reached Switzerland, according to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

The sub-variant appears to be 10 percent more virulent than the original Delta strain, but Jean Fehr, an infectious disease specialist at University of Zurich, said that only a few cases have been identified in Switzerland so far.

However, if cases were to increase rapidly, “it will be necessary to act more decisively than when the Delta variant first appeared”, he added.

On the positive side, “there is no evidence that  vaccines approved in our country protect less against this subvariant”.

Health official: Slow rollout of booster vaccines not Switzerland’s fault

Many in Switzerland have been complaining that the government is slow to approve the third dose of Covid-19 vaccine, noting that a number of other countries have already started to administer booster shots.

The country’s drug authorisation agency, Swissmedic, is thought to be stalling in its approval of third doses.

However, “Swissmedic is anything but slow” , according to the agency’s director Raimund Bruhin, who explained in an interview that vaccine manufacturers themselves decide when to submit their applications for approval.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) received the requests for authorisation earlier than Swissmedic, which only got applications from Pfizer and Moderna in mid-September.

“Currently, the assessment is well advanced”, Bruhin said, adding that  Switzerland  must conduct its own authorisaton process rather than “leaving it to the judgment of foreign approval authorities”.

Last week, Swiss authorities have indicated that booster shots may be ready as soon as the end of October.

READ MORE: Switzerland could approve Covid boosters ‘by end October’

Swiss president fears the return of partial unemployment

Guy Parmelin worries that Switzerland’s companies might have to resort  to short-time work next year, as they did during the shutdown in 2020.

This time, however, it would not be due to lack of employment, but because of the interruption of a number of supply chains for spare parts needed by Swiss companies to finish their products.

“If this crisis were to worsen in other countries, Switzerland would also be affected”, said Parmelin, who, aside from holding this year’s rotating presidency, also heads the country’s Ministry of Economy.

Geneva’s housing market  reaches a record level of sales

Although Geneva’s property prices are among the highest in Switzerland, the number of real estate transactions concluded in the city and canton between July and September of this year is the highest since 2007, and the second-highest ever observed for this period, according to the Cantonal Statistical Office.

In all, 777 transactions, for a total value of 2 billion francs, were carried out, including sales of single-family homes and apartments.

The median value of a single-family house sold is 2.3 million francs, and 1.250 million francs for an apartment.

READ MORE: Ten things Geneva residents take for granted

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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