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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.

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

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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For members


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

Swiss pensioners are getting poorer, proposals for Swiss patients to be treated in France, and other news in our roundup on Tuesday.

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

Inflation weighs on Swiss retirement assets

Coupled with relatively low interest rates, the 3.3-percent inflation rate is having a major impact on Swiss occupational pension funds, causing them to shrink by 2 percent.

Overall, purchasing power of pensions is falling and retirees risk losing a whole month’s income; an average retired  couple could lose between 450 and 500 francs, or 8 percent of their pensions, in purchasing power.

READ MORE: Switzerland’s retirees risk losing a whole month’s pension

And there is more bad news for the elderly…

More Swiss seniors are living in poverty

A new study by Pro Senectute organisation for the elderly reveals that over 300,000 seniors in Switzerland are poor, receiving only 2,500 a month to live on.

Regionally, most of them are in Ticino, where 30 percent of pensioners are living in poverty.

On the the other hand, in Basel only 6 percent of seniors are considered poor —the lowest rate in the country, the study found.

READ MORE: MYTHBUSTER: Yes, Switzerland does have people living in poverty

MP suggests Swiss patients should be treated in France

As the costs of healthcare are soaring in Switzerland, MP Philippe Nantermod proposes that residents who live near the French border — for instance, in Geneva, Vaud, and Jura — undergo medical treatment in France, where it is cheaper, and that Swiss insurance should pay for it.

Santésuisse, an umbrella group for health insurance companies, supports this move.

 “It would put  less pressure on the [Swiss] system”, said Christophe Kaempf, spokesperson for the group.

For instance, patients living near the border could consult a French doctor and could buy generic drugs for half the price in France”, he said.

“However, we must ensure that the services there are of equal quality to what we have in Switzerland”. 

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How Switzerland wants to cut soaring healthcare costs

Temperatures will exceed 20 degrees this week

After falling down sharply in the past few days, with cold and rain prevailing in much of Switzerland, the sun and higher temperatures are making their comeback this week, according to Nicolas Borgognon, meteorologist at MeteoNews

Temperatures will exceed 20C, reaching 23-24C on Wednesday, he said.

The weather will remain mild until this weekend, when “a possible return of showers is expected”.

But “temperatures will remain above seasonal averages until next Sunday”,  Borgognon said.

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]