FOR MEMBERS

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

High-tech research into Omicron’s mysteries is carried out at EPFL. Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP
High-tech research into Omicron’s mysteries is carried out at EPFL. Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP
Find out what's going on today in Switzerland with The Local's short roundup of the news.

Half of Switzerland’s population could be infected soon

Fifty percent of the county’s population could have coronavirus in a few weeks, according to Richard Neher, member of the Covid-19 Task Force.

All that’s needed is for the Omicron variant to continue to spread at the current rate.

This scenario is plausible, Neher said, as the number of infections is expected to climb to 20,000 a day, as experts have predicted. But the real number would be higher, because some contaminated people are not tested and therefore not included in official statistics.  

And even though Omicron is believed to be less severe overall, especially in vaccinated people, having half the population infected would impact hospitals significantly, he said.

READ MORE: ‘20,000 cases per day’: Experts draw Covid forecast for Switzerland

And speaking of Omicron: the Swiss are investigating its mysteries

Researchers at the Federal Polytechnic Institute of Lausanne (EPFL) are using the most powerful electron microscopes in the world to crack Omicron’s mysteries and  understand “the mechanisms by which this new variant escapes vaccines and antibodies.”

“This knowledge could prove to be valuable in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and pave the way for new therapeutic approaches”, according to Didier Trono, an epidemiologist and professor at EPFL

“The potential of this technology is simply extraordinary”, he added.

Federal Council unveils its new official photograph for 2022

Each year, as a new Swiss president takes up his or her post, a new photograph of the Federal Council is released.

This year’s photo depicts each of the seven councillors, along with the chancellor, ‘standing’ on the territory of their home canton.

President Ignazio Cassis ‘stands’ on Ticino, Viola Amherd on Valais, Guy Parmelin on Vaud, Alain Berset on Fribourg, Simmonetta Sommaruga on Bern, Ueli Maurer on Zurich, Karin Keller-Sutter on St. Gallen, and chancellor Walter Thurnher, whose role is to prepare the Federal Council’s reports to the paerliament, on Aargau.

 The Federal Council 2022. Official government photo.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why does Switzerland’s president only serve one year

 

New Covid rules to be decided on Wednesday

For the time being, the Federal Council has refrained from introducing stricter measures to rein in the spread of coronavirus, saying insufficient information is available about the risks of Omicron.

However, “the next few days are crucial,” said Lukas Engelberger, head of the Conference of Cantonal Health Directors,  as new data would be available by Wednesday

“If the use of  intensive care units continues to increase by then, the Federal Council will not be able to avoid adopting new measures as early as next week or at least submitting them to the cantons for consultation.”

He added that “the most important thing is that we have a suitable measures for the Omicron wave and not simply rely on the most convenient one. If further tightening is needed, it must come from the federal government”.

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]


Member comments

Become a Member to leave a comment.Or login here.