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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

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.

Auf wiedersehen, Basel: many people are leaving the city for greener pastures. Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels
Auf wiedersehen, Basel: many people are leaving the city for greener pastures. Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels

New research: Omicron will not push Swiss hospitals to their limits

Even though it spreads quickly and continues to infect a record number of people, the Omicron variant is unlikely to overburden Switzerland’s healthcare system, a study by the Federal Laboratory for Materials Testing and Research (Empa) indicates.

These findings allow for a cautious optimism: if the infection reproduction rate in Switzerland remains below 2 (this value stands at 1.21 now), intensive care units will not be filled to capacity.

That’s because Omicron, though more transmissible, is less severe than Delta. This means that infected people, especially the vaccinated, are likely to recover by themselves without needing hospital care, Empa found.

READ MORE: ‘Too early to celebrate’: How Omicron is still holding Switzerland in its grip

Rising healthcare costs in Switzerland will drive up premiums

Costs for basic health insurance policy rose by an average of 5.1 percent in 2021, according to the umbrella health insurance organisation Santésuisse.

Cost increases had been moderate over the past three years, but the sharp rise observed in 2021 “threatens the stability of premiums”, Santésuisse said.

The spike is the largest since 2013, and it does not even take into account the costs of Covid vaccinations, which reached 265 million francs.

This would lead to increases in insurance costs which, in turn, will be passed on to consumers.

Service on Léman Express is still disrupted

Numerous Covid-related staff absences are still disrupting the operation of the Léman Express train, commonly used by cross-border workers commuting from France to their jobs in the Geneva area.

Suspended since January 8th, lines L2 and L4 between Coppet (VD) and Annemasse (France) will ultimately remain out of service until February 15th.

In the meantime, RegioExpress trains are covering all the stops between Geneva and Annemasse, though other cancellations or timetable changes are not excluded, according to Swiss Federal Railways.

Basel: The most ‘abandoned’ city in Switzerland

Residents are moving away from Basel more frequently than from other Swiss cities, according to a new study from UBS bank.

But interestingly, while locals want to get out of Basel, more and more foreigners are drawn to the northern Swiss city, UBS said.

Among the reasons cited for the exodus are high rents and too few new construction projects in the city.

A similar phenomenon, though on a lesser scale, has been observed in Bern and Zurich, while suburban and rural areas of Graubünden, Vaud and St. Gallen recorded a “very strong increase in newcomers”, the study found.

If you are one of the people who moved, or are planning to move, away from city into the countryside, please take part in our reader survey.

READ MORE: REVEALED: Which Swiss cities offer the best quality of life?

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

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

Fewer train connections in Switzerland, cheaper housing in Zurich and the rest of the news roundup on Thursday.

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

Coming soon: more affordable housing in Zurich

Rents are notoriously high in Switzerland’s largest city, but some relief is on the way.

Municipal authorities have successfully negotiated a barter deal with Welti-Furrer real estate company to offer a number of reasonably priced apartments in the Altstetten neighbourhood.

While the amount the flats are renting for was not published, Blick reports that the negotiations yielded “974 square metres of affordable living space to be rented out during 25 years”.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How inflation is increasing housing costs in Switzerland

Swiss Federal Railways want to eliminate some train connections

In its draft timetable for 2023, the company (SBB ) proposes to reduce the number of trains circulating between some Swiss cities.

For instance, SBB is planning to do away with the trains departing from Bern at 7:10 am and 4:10 pm, and the departures from Zurich at 6:49 am.

Two morning connections on the Lucerne-Zurich route are also to be eliminated, along with come off-peak-hour trains in other parts on Switzerland.

However, the draft timetable for 2023 also provides for an expansion for the leisure traffic on weekends, including between Geneva and Chur.

New direct connections are also planned on the Romanshorn-Interlaken route. This means that the tourist destinations in the Bernese Oberland will be better linked to eastern Switzerland and the Zurich area.

Swissmedic to Moderna: It’s too early for second boosters

After Paul Burton, chief medical officer of the vaccine manufacturer Moderna, announced in the Swiss media this week that vaccines will have to be administered “year after year”, Switzerland’s drug regulatory body responded that second boosters are not yet planned in the country.

Swissmedic said that neither Moderna nor other vaccine manufacturers have submitted an authorisation request for a second booster in Switzerland.

In order for the process to get off the ground,the Federal Vaccinations Commission (FVC) will also have to issue a recommendation for the booster dose before it is given to all age groups.

For people over 65 or with chronic illnesses, this will likely be possible in the fall, according to FVC head. Christoph Berger.

READ MORE: Reader question: When will Switzerland roll out second Covid boosters?

Switzerland wants to speed up the purchase of American fighter jets

Although the decision to buy 36 US-made F-35A planes remains controversial, the Federal Council decided to accelerate the purchase.

With a number of other countries buying these fighter jets as well, the government is concerned there could be delivery delays. “In order for Switzerland to be able to protect its population from air threats beyond 2030, it must receive its first F-35As as early as 2027”, the Federal Council said in a press release.

Under the terms of the agreement, the offer is valid only until March 31st, 2023, but “the deterioration of the security situation prompts the Federal Council to want to fill the gaps in military capabilities quicker than expected”.
 
No specific date is given but it will be before the March deadline, authorities said.

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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