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

Find out what's going on today in Switzerland with The Local's short roundup of the news.

Could one of these breads contain pesticides? Photo by Bruno Thethe on Unsplash
Could one of these breads contain pesticides? Photo by Bruno Thethe on Unsplash

Almost 300,000 Covid cases recorded during the holidays

Omicron wreaked havoc in Switzerland during the Christmas-New Year period, with 112,445 people testing positive between December 27th and January 2nd.

The following week, even more cases were detected – 180,562 in total.

Overall, a 60.6 percent increase in infections has been reported in the last two weeks alone.

READ MORE: Covid hotspots: ‘More hospitalisations’ predicted for Switzerland’s as cases increase 

Some bread sold in Switzerland contains harmful pesticides

A laboratory analysis revealed that five types of breads sold by major Swiss retailers contain traces of pesticides.

Out of 28 breads found at Aldi, Coop, Lidl and Migros, five contain residues of potentially toxic chemicals, according to a consumer report by RTS public broadcaster.

However, the quantities of these additives found in breads are too low to be harmful to health.

“A 70-kilogram person could eat 700 slices of bread containing small amount of these substances every day without risk”, toxicologist Nicolas Roth told RTS.

This table (in French) indicates, in orange on the upper right side, the breads where traces of chemicals were discovered.

Five out of 28 breads contain traces of pesticides. Image: RTS

Regional trains come to the aid of Léman Express

Léman Express, the train commonly used by cross-border workers commuting from France to their jobs in the Geneva area, had cut some of its services because a number of its staff members are in quarantine.

However, to fill the gap, the double-decker RegioExpress will stop at additional stations between Geneva’s Cornavin and the French town Annemasse.

Since last weekend, only half of the Léman Express trains have been traveling between Coppet (VD) and Annemasse, reducing its service to one train per half hour and per direction, instead of the usual frequency of one every 15 minutes.

From next week, however, RegioExpress will pick up the slack, fetching and dropping off passengers at small stations where it usually doesn’t stop, including Chêne-Bourg, Genève-Champel and Lancy-Bachet.

READ MORE: Why Swiss trains are less punctual — and what is being done about it

Swiss emigrants more likely to return to their country

A new migration study from the Federal statistical Office (OFS) shows a link between the return rate and place of birth and nationality.

“People born in Switzerland are more inclined to return home than those born abroad”, the study found.

Of the Swiss who left the country in 2011, half were back in 2020 and  two-thirds within three years of departure. Among people of foreign nationality, the rate of return was much lower — 17 percent.

More Swiss than foreigners return home. Image: OFS

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

Swiss workers need wage rises and rent prices rise in Zurich in the latest roundup of news from Switzerland on Tuesday.

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

Swiss workers should get wage increase of ‘up to 5 percent in 2023’

Trade Union Travail Suisse has demanded a general wage rise of between 3 and 5 percent for all workers in the country in 2023.

The rise would allow workers to cope with the rising cost of living in the country as well as to compensate workers for an increase in productivity.

Thomas Bauer an economist from Travail Suisse argues that Switzerland’s economy is in good health at the moment but workers have seen little benefit in terms of wage rises. They have only see prices rise and stress levels increase.

“That has to change urgently,” he said.

That argument was echoed by Johann Tscherrig from the Syna trade union who said: “All workers must get their fair share of the fruits of growth” as they work “to the maximum of their abilities”.

READ ALSO: FACT CHECK: How accurate are the ‘five reasons not to move to Switzerland’?

Rent prices stable in July but increase in Zurich

Rent prices in Switzerland did not see an increase last month for the first time in a year, according to the property site Homegate.

But although July saw prices stagnate or even sightly decrease, the bigger picture shows that rents continue to rise, especially in Switzerland’s cities.

Over the last year they have increased 2 percent in Switzerland as a whole and as much as 6.4 percent in Zurich.

The canton of Graubünden saw a 4.3 percent rise compared to last year whilst rents in the cantons of Nidwalden (+7.3%) and Schwyz (+4.7%) also rose steeply.

Homegate put the general rise down to the fact that “both the number of vacant homes and the number of building permit applications are down, while demand remains high due to immigration.”

READ ALSO: REVEALED: Where in Europe have house prices and rent costs increased the most?

Wolf population in Alps growing exponentially

The number of wolves in the Alps continues to grow but there are concerns that available habitat will soon become too restricted as the population of the wild animal grows exponentially.

The organisation Groupe Loup Suisse (Swiss Wolf group) said the wolf population across the Alps was growing by 25 percent to 30 percent each year.

With around 300 wolf packs living in the Alps this summer the population has occupied around half the habitable area – given that each wolf pack needs around 250 square kilometres of territory on average.

Groupe Loup Suisse estimates therefore that the Alps has around enough space for a viable population of 800 packs.

The organisation believes it’s vital to implement measures to better protect livestock from wolf attacks.

READ ALSO: Swiss organisation again calls for volunteers to scare wolves away

Chimney sweepers in high demand

The high oil and gas prices are scaring Swiss homeowners and many are not getting ready to heat their homes with wood, broadcaster SRF reported.

With that, chimney sweep services are more sought after than ever, with businesses booked weeks ahead, especially in rural areas, where wood stoves and fireplaces are more common. But inquiries from homeowners in larger cities are also increasing, the head of the Association of chimney sweeps Switzerland Paul Grässli says.

He reminds people to have their fireplaces and stoves checked regularly by professionals to avoid accidents. “If the fireplace has not been used for years, it could be dangerous, he says.

READ ALSO: How can you save on your household energy bills in Switzerland?