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Today in Switzerland: A round-up of the latest news on Monday

He is cute, but could he be infected with Omicron variant? Photo by Dušan veverkolog on Unsplash
He is cute, but could he be infected with Omicron variant? Photo by Dušan veverkolog on Unsplash
Find out what's going on today in Switzerland with The Local's short roundup of the news.

Triage has already started in some Swiss ICUs

Health officials have been issuing warnings about intensive care units in Switzerland being saturated due to the spike in Covid infections.

Media reports that many of them are already overloaded. Geneva’s medical facilities are “in crisis mode”, along with Bern’s and Zurich’s, where there is no longer any free space in the intensive care.

The Hirslanden Clinic in Aarau even started to triage patients, turning away a cancer patient due to lack of intensive care beds, according to Christian Frey, deputy director of the clinic’s ICU.

“Triage will increase as the number of cases goes up”, he added.

READ MORE: ‘No more ICU beds’ in Zurich as Switzerland hits all-time Covid case record

Few people in Switzerland had booster doses so far

Between November 15th, when the booster rollout began, until December 2nd, only 6.81 percent of Switzerland’s population have received the third shot of Covid vaccine, according to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

However, since boosters have been mainly administered to people over 65 rather than to population at large, in that age category nearly a quarter — 24.28 percent — are fully vaccinated with three doses.

READ MORE: Should you get a booster jab in Switzerland or wait for Omicron vaccine?

Switzerland tests foxes for Omicron variant

As there is a theory that this particular virus was originally transmitted to animals, mutated there, and then returned to humans, Swiss government is subjecting foxes, lynxes and other will animals to PCR tests.

Up to now, 45 samples, all negative, have been performed and analysed. By 2023, 1,300 wild animals are expected to be tested for the virus.
 
The price of cigarettes could soon almost double

The Swiss Association for Tobacco Control is calling for an increase in taxes on cigarettes —  14 francs, compared to 8 currently — as a way to prevent people from smoking.Under the plan, the price of cheapest package would increase from 5.50 francs to 10.20.

“Compared to the level of wages and costs in Switzerland, 5.50 francs for a pack of cigarettes is very cheap,” said Wolfgang Kweitel, head of public affairs at anti-tobacco group.

An increase in the price causes a reduction in the number of smokers, according to studies, he said.

The proposal is backed by other Swiss anti-smoking groups, including the Lung League, the League Against Cancer, as well as FMH, the umbrella organisation for doctors.

Omicron has been present in Switzerland for over two decades

No, not the Covid variant, but a Zurich IT company called Omicron.

In a strange twist, the firm is dealing with viruses —  computer viruses, to be exact — as it specialises in security and protects its customers from malware.

When Thomas Stutz  created the company 26 years ago, he couldn’t have known that this name would one day designate a virus mutation in the midst of a global pandemic.

But he couldn’t ignore the eerie coincidence either: a photograph of a Covid vial on the firm’s homepage carries the phrase: “We cannot protect you from all viruses!” On the other hand, we have been fighting effectively since 1995 against computer viruses. “

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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