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

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

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday
Attentiveness and quality of medical care are among the top criteria for choice of hospital. Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

Epidemiological update: New Covid variants are emerging

A combination of Delta and Omicron variants that has been found in an increasing number of chronic infections has given rise to a new name: Deltacron.

What do we know about this newcomer?

“There is currently no evidence that this mutation would spread quickly…and it can be assumed that the immunity level of the population is good, ” said Richard Neher, member of the Covid-19 Task Force.

But there is also another variant circulating in Switzerland: Omicron’s “little brother” known as BA.2, which is even more contagious but not more virulent than its big sibling, at least for vaccinated people.

The epidemic rebound is also driving up daily hospitalisation numbers in Switzerland. “The increase in the number of cases is most strongly affecting those over the age of 60, and there is a significant increase in the number of hospitalisations”, the Covid-19 Task Force pointed out in its latest report published on Tuesday.

The Federal Council in favour of a free Travelcard for Ukrainians

Ukrainian refugees arriving in Switzerland could receive a free “solidarity” ticket for public transport, allowing them to  move more easily around their local area.

These people are already allowed to travel free of charge to a destination anywhere in the country when fleeing Ukraine.

Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) noted that people with Ukrainian passports can  use public transport free of charge to get to their destination or to cross the country on the way to another. But that the “free ride” does not include “tourist trips”, SBB said.

READ MORE: UPDATE: How Switzerland is supporting refugees from Ukraine

The National Council votes to abolish VAT on fuel

The lower chamber of the Swiss parliament created a (pleasant) surprise by accepting a proposal from MP Franz Grüter, who is asking that Value Added Tax (VAT) no longer apply to fuel taxes: the tax on mineral oils, the surcharge on mineral oils, and taxes on the import of gasoline. The motion was accepted by 105 votes to 84.

This decision comes as the price of gasoline has risen sharply since the start of the war in Ukraine. On Monday, the Federal Council replied that it was not going to act for the moment against this increase.

The proposal will now be debated by the Council of States.

READ MORE:Where in Switzerland can you find the cheapest fuel?

The Swiss choose their hospital according to these criteria

There are more than 200 public and private acute-care hospitals in Switzerland, the  highest density in the world. This means the population has a wide choice in terms of medical care.

But what are their priorities when choosing a healthcare facility?

According to a survey carried out by Groupe Mutuel insurance company, the most important selection criterion relates to the medical expertise for the intervention  / treatment in question. This is listed as a priority by 68 percent of respondents.

The second criterion is the relationship and interaction between the doctor and patient. Next comes the quality of care and attentiveness of the health care staff.

Flexibility in visiting hours as well as overall patient satisfaction were also considered important when choosing a hospital.

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: A roundup of the latest news on Monday

From a solid approval of all the issues in Sunday's referendum to higher beverage prices: find out what's going on today in Switzerland with The Local's short roundup of the news.

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

The Swiss say ‘yes’ to three proposals in Sunday’s referendum

Voters in Switzerland have accepted all three of the Federal Council’s proposals, rejecting, at the same time, opponents’ arguments.

The law making organ donation opt out across the country was approved by 60.20 percent, providing more money and staff to controversial EU border protection agency Frontex passed with 71.48 percent, and Lex Netflix – which makes streaming services pay a percentage fee to support Swiss filmmaking – passed with 58.42 percent.

READ MORE: Swiss back ‘Netflix’ law and steer clear of ‘Frontexit’

Read about the reactions in Switzerland to the vote results in our article to be published later today.

Price of beverages is soaring in Switzerland

Another popular product is becoming more expensive: non-alcoholic beverages.

“The price of PET [bottle] is skyrocketing, and with it that of mineral water and soft drinks”, according to a report in 20 Minuten.

“And there is a risk of further price increases.”

For instance, prices per litre of mineral water are now 5 to 10 cents higher, depending on the retailer. 

Of the four major retailers that the newspaper surveyed — Migros, Coop, Aldi and Lidl — only Coop has not yet increased the price of beverages, although its spokesperson conceded the company “cannot currently rule out price adjustments,” due to higher cost of raw materials, the shortage of packaging material, and the increased transport and energy costs.

Beverages have joined a growing list of other everyday products whose prices have increased due to inflation and war in Ukraine.

READ MORE: Seven products that are becoming more expensive in Switzerland

Migros gets tough on “unscrupulous” customers

Due to a growing number of shoplifters, some self-service Migros stores in Zurich are installing special barriers allowing only those who pay for their purchases to exit the store.

Customers who pay at self-checkout terminals must now scan the QR code of their receipt to open a barrier and leave with their purchases.

This is a rather drastic measure, “as Migros and Coop have so far relied on individual responsibility and random checks”, according to Tagblatt newspaper.

Russians critical of the Putin regime want to remain in Switzerland

A number of Russian women in Switzerland, who have criticised the war on social media and are therefore afraid of repercussions from the Kremlin, are asking the Federal Council to grant them asylum.

“I can understand that these women are concerned,” said Ulrich Schmid, Professor of Russian Culture and Society at the University of St. Gallen. “It is possible that the Russian secret service reports on people who are critical of the war”.

Should Russian deserters and opponents of the war get asylum in Switzerland? MPs’ views diverge.

For a Green MP Balthasar Glättli, Switzerland should grant these war objectors humanitarian visas.

However, according to Thomas Aeschi from the Swiss People’s Party (SVP), “Switzerland should treat all asylum seekers equally”, pointing out there are many people in other countries “who are also threatened”.

According to the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), Russians who remain in Switzerland can apply to their canton of residence to extend their existing residence permit. “It will be checked whether they meet the legal requirements for this”, SEM said.

READ MORE: Reader question: Do Russians now have to leave Switzerland?

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]