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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

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

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

Switzerland has cleaned up its act in terms of money laundering. Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash
Switzerland has cleaned up its act in terms of money laundering. Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

New Omicron sub-variant ‘definitely present in Switzerland’

A sub-variant of Omicron, the BA.2 (the original variant being the BA.1) is spreading at high speed through several countries.

“We have not yet identified it, because we don’t sequence a lot in Switzerland, but the BA.2 clearly has a propensity to develop”, according to Antoine Flahault, director of the Institute of Global Health at the University of Geneva.

To date, even if the new strain appears to be more contagious than BA.1, “there is no indication that it has a different pathological profile”, Flahault said. “They are both Omicron”.

If it turns out to be less dangerous than all the previous ones, “we will obviously be happy about it, but I don’t think we can be happy about the invasion of a new variant”, he added.

READ MORE: Covid: One in ten Swiss infected in past week

Quality of life in nine Swiss cities rated

Various aspects of living in Switzerland’s nine largest cities and their agglomerations have been updated in City Statistics data.

Conducted by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), the project examined categories including housing, health, personal safety, public transport, environmental quality and other factors to rate the quality of life in Basel, Bern, Geneva, Lausanne, Lucerne, Lugano, St. Gallen, Winterthur and Zurich.

Read a more detailed article in The Local about the report’s findings.

READ MORE: Why have Swiss cities become ‘more liveable’ during the pandemic?

Switzerland remains among the world’s top 10 least corrupted countries

That’s the good news. The not-so-good part is that in terms of corruption, Switzerland slipped in international ratings from third place in 2020 to seventh in 2021, a new ranking by Transparency International indicates.

Overall, however, Switzerland is one of the nations “that actively implements the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Convention against Corruption”, the study found.

Among the areas where the country could improve, according to Martin Hilti, director of Transparency Switzerland, are the fight against money laundering, legal provisions against lobbying, and protection of whistleblowers.

READ MORE: ANALYSIS: Is Switzerland actually a tax haven?

Bern to promote the ‘diversity of the population’ in municipal administration

Almost every fourth person living in the capital city is a foreigner; according to figures from the Bern Statistics Office.

The municipal council has now presented a “priority plan for migration and racism”. One of the 25 goals to be implemented by 2025 is to hire more people with a migration background in the urban workforce.

“The administration should act as a role model and reflect the population of the city. That is not the case at the moment”, said municipal spokesperson Franziska Teuscher.

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

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

From online scams to avoid to hot weather forecast: find out what's going on on Friday in Switzerland with The Local's short roundup of the news.

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

Campaign launched against online shopping scams

Swiss police are warning the public against online shopping scams, including  the latest one, involving the activation of an online payment system that allows scammers to make several online purchases at the expense of the victim.

The best way to protect yourself and not fall prey to scammers, police say is to:

  • Always verify the sender and amount when receiving a payment request;
  • Never transmit a confirmation code to third parties;
  • Always check account statements;
  • Immediately report any suspicious transactions;
  • Report any such crime to the police.

All the advice and recommendations can be found on this website.

READ MORE:  How to avoid the most common online scams in Switzerland

Free travel for Ukrainian refugees to end

Since March 21st, refugees from Ukraine have traveled free of charge in on public transportation in Switzerland, a service which was provided by the federal government.

This perk, however, will end from June 1st.

“This free travel saved us from considerable administrative work, as these people would have had to be issued transport cards for each stage of their registration procedure”, according to Anne Césard, spokesperson for the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM).

A number of MPs are challenging this decision, however.

 “If these people can no longer travel for free, this will constitute an additional obstacle to their chances of integration, knowing that the financial aid granted to them is very low”, said Pierre-Yves Maillard.

“As long as the majority of these people cannot meet their needs sufficiently, we must continue to help them by extending this free service, even if it is in the form of a subsidy”, said another deputy , Benjamin Roduit.

United States impressed by Swiss sanctions

The US government has praised what Switzerland has done so far in the search for Russian funds to block, according to Scott Miller, the American ambassador to Switzerland.

Bern has made “immense progress” in freezing about  6.3 billion francs, belonging primarily to Russian oligarchs with ties to president Putin.

“This is a package of sanctions of a weight and breadth that, to be honest, have never been seen in the world”, he added.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why Switzerland is a magnet for Russian money
 

Get ready to be very hot today

If Swiss meteorologists got it right, temperatures will reach the high of 32 degrees today.

“The current heat wave is relatively extreme for a month of May”, said meteorologist Joshua Gehring from official weather service MeteoSwiss.

Screenshot MeteoSwiss

The reason: “What we are currently experiencing, that is to say a relatively early heat wave, is a direct consequence of climate change”, Gehring noted.

READ MORE: Heatwave: Why is it so hot in Switzerland right now?

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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