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

Warmer temperatures in Switzerland’s mountain resorts mean no skiing over the holidays. Photo by Christopher Izquierdo on Unsplash
Warmer temperatures in Switzerland’s mountain resorts mean no skiing over the holidays. Photo by Christopher Izquierdo on Unsplash
Find out what's going on today in Switzerland with The Local's short roundup of the news.

Omicron now the dominant variant in Switzerland

The Omicron variant is now the main source of Covid infections in the country, according to new figures from the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

It represents 55.7 of all Covid cases detected  in Switzerland since December 17th, while the formerly dominant Delta mutation accounts for 43.8 percent of latest  contaminations.

This is in line with forecasts by health officials, who said Omicron would become dominant by the beginning of 2022.

Some experts, like epidemiologist Didier Trono, point out this situation may actually be a blessing in disguise.

As it is believed that Omicron spreads much faster than Delta, but is not as dangerous for most people, “it would quickly achieve collective immunity without causing too much damage”, he said.

READ MORE: IN NUMBERS: Which Swiss cantons have most Omicron cases?

Switzerland authorises its first Covid drug

The Swiss medicines agency Swissmedic has given the green light to the drug Ronapreve from Roche, a combination of antibodies that can be used for the purposes of treatment or prevention of Covid-19, the regulator announced.

Ronapreve, a combination of the casirivimab and imdevimab antibodies, has been authorised for patients from 12 years of age in the treatment of Covid cases “not requiring oxygen therapy or hospitalisation and when there is a high risk of developing a severe form of the disease”.

The government has also concluded contracts with two pharmaceutical companies, GlaxoSmithKline and Roche, to reserve doses of “promising” coronavirus drugs designed for the treatment of Covid in high-risk patients.

Home office: employers must refund certain expenses
With the latest changes to the Covid-19 ordinance that came into effect last week, employers must cover certain costs related to teleworking, as stipulated in the Swiss labour law.
The company must pay additional charges generated by the telework obligation, which is in effect until January 24. This includes, for instance,  part of the phone bill or office supplies an employee needs to work at home.
It will be up to the employees to prove the validity of these additional costs.
Rather than item-by-item billing, there is also a possibility of a flat rate covering costs related to teleworking, but that will be up to each company to decide.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What will Switzerland’s working from home obligation look like?

Read this before you go skiing

The ski season started off well, with plenty of snowfall in the Alps. But record-high temperatures that are forecast in the mountains for the coming days, even at high altitudes, may put an end to winter sports in the near future, according to meteorologist Sabine Balmer from public broadcaster SRF. A lot of rain and unseasonably mild temperatures are melting the snow that fell in the mountains in recent weeks, she said.

This means temperatures even at an altitude of 2,000 metres — usually below 0 degrees at this time of the year — will reach 10 to 12 degrees by New Year.

This is definitely not good news for people planning to hit the slopes over the holidays or tourists who are already in the mountain resorts.

Majority of Swiss tenants have problems with their landlord

Three-quarters of tenants in Switzerland have had difficulty finding adequate and affordable housing and over 70 percent have a problem in their tenancy relationship, according to a new survey commissioned by the Swiss Tenants Association (ASLOCA).

Problems related to finding suitable apartments appear in both urban and rural areas, but are accentuated in cities, especially in Geneva, Lausanne, Bern and Zurich, which are experiencing housing shortages, ASLOCA found.

In regards to problems with landlords reported by 70 percent of respondents, the main grievances include repairs and maintenance, along with financial aspects such as requesting rent reduction and billing incidental costs.

READ MORE: In which Swiss canton can you find a rental bargain?

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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