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Today in Switzerland For Members

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

Helena Bachmann in Geneva
Helena Bachmann in Geneva - [email protected] • 18 Jul, 2022 Updated Mon 18 Jul 2022 07:43 CEST
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Matterhorn and other melting glaciers in its vicinity are shifting Switzerland's borders Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

Covid cases to peak soon, Russia's threats against a Swiss newspaper, and other news on Monday.

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Covid to peak 'in two to four weeks'

While the number of coronavirus infections due to Omicron and its highly contagious sub-variants have been increasing in past weeks — nearly 56,000 new contaminations had been reported in Switzerland in a span of one week — the worst is yet to come.

“We will probably peak in two to four weeks”, Huldrych Günthard, professor of infectious diseases at the University Hospital Zurich said in an interview with Blick on Sunday.

This means the number of cases will keep increasing until about mid-August, though according to Günthard and other health experts, Omicron sub-variants don’t lead to serious complications in most cases.

Asked about epidemiological predictions for autumn and winter, he said that “new vaccines against the Omicron variant should become available” soon, adding that “we must already think about the fastest way to distribute the new vaccine. We need a clear strategy”.

READ MORE: Reader question: When will Switzerland authorise second Covid booster shots?

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Melting glaciers re-define Swiss borders

Receding glaciers, which are now shrinking at a faster rate than before, are re-defining borders between Switzerland and Italy.

Melting snow on and around the famed Matterhorn, which straddles both countries, is literally moving the borders, and this drift has logistical and practical implications, according to Alain Wicht, who is in charge of national border layouts at the Federal Office of Topography (Swisstopo).

For instance, “when an accident occurs, the question arises as to which country is responsible. And when train lines or roads cross the Alps, it should be clear whether they should stick to Italian or Swiss regulations for their construction and maintenance”.

The shift also affects the Testa-Grigia hut above Zermatt, according to a report in Blick on Sunday. The glacier surrounding the refuge has melted heavily in recent years. Switzerland and Italy must agree on the location of the border to determine which country administers the hut.

READ MORE: Why Switzerland’s glaciers are melting faster than usual this summer

Russia threatens to sue Swiss newspaper over caricature of Putin

In a letter addressed to Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) this weekend, the Russian Embassy in Bern warned the newspaper’s editor-in-chief that it “reserves the right” to take legal action for defamation and slander of President Vladimir Putin.

This action is in response to the publication of a recent article in NZZ portraying Putin as a red-nosed clown.

“If we talk about clowning, it would be much more appropriate” to feature “the former Ukrainian comedian Volodymyr Zelensky”, the embassy wrote.

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Lidl is developing emergency plan for blackouts, other retailers also ‘well prepared’

Due to the expected  gas shortage, Lidl Switzerland is setting up a worst-case-scenario contingency plans to be implemented in case of blackouts.

"We are observing developments in the energy sector very closely and are in the process of working out the necessary emergency plans", the company spokesperson said, without disclosing further details.

Other large retail chains are devising plans  as well in case they are plunged into darkness.

“Basically, we feel well prepared. There is no reason to panic; even meticulous preparations for extreme scenarios do not mean that they will have to be implemented", Migros spokesperson said.

Coop and Manor also have various contingency plans in place, they said, while at Aldi, “we are always following the current situation closely and evaluating it as part of our crisis management in order to adapt our existing emergency concepts if necessary".

READ MORE: How is Switzerland preparing for power outages this winter?

 

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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Helena Bachmann in Geneva 2022/07/18 07:43

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