Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday
No relief from the heat, Covid cases are dropping, and other Swiss news in our roundup on Wednesday.
Scorching temperatures continue in Switzerland this week
The heatwave is expected to continue throughout today and until Friday at least, with temperatures reaching 35C in the plains and more than 30C at an altitude of 1,000 m, according to MeteoNews weather service.
On Thursday, temps in some regions will soar to 36 or 37C, while the zero-degree limit will be at 4,800m.
Intense, 30C-plus heat will persist on Friday, though a few thunderstorms are expected in some areas. “That said, no real deterioration is in sight for probably at least 10 days and temperatures should remain high next week, only accentuating the already very marked drought”, MeteoNews noted.
Covid cases are declining
The number of new coronavirus infections is continuing to drop, according to new weekly data released by the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).
Some 23,348 new cases were reported in a span of seven days, between July 26th and August 2nd — down from 37,738 cases recorded the week prior. This means, the number of new contaminations has fallen by 38.1 percent in this time period.
This FOPH chart shows the downward trend:
And speaking of Covid…
Pfizer seeks Switzerland’s approval for its vaccine against Omicron
As the existing vaccines were conceived to combat the early coronavirus strains like Alpha and Delta, Omicron and its sub-variants are now dominant in Switzerland.
On Tuesday, Pfizer has sent a request to Switzerland’s drug regulatory agency, Swissmedic, to extend its existing authorisation to the manufacturer’s Omicron-adapted version of the vaccine.
Moderna has already submitted an application at the end of June for the approval of its own anti-Omicron vaccine.
“When a decision will be made will depend on the results of [clinical] trials, as well as quality data, which have not yet been released”, Swissmedic said.
The new vaccines are expected to be used for the second round of booster shots, with the rollout for general public to begin sometime in the fall.
Medical emergency: Switzerland needs 7,500 nurses
While there are enough beds in Swiss hospitals, nurses are scarce. Nearly all hospitals report shortage of nursing professionals, totaling about 7,500 vacant posts throughout the country, according to a new report by the employment platform Jobradar.
As a result, fewer patients can be treated, and some health establishments have had to postpone outpatient surgeries.
A number of hospitals have even started to train nurses, but this process "takes time. It doesn't happen overnight", Hélène Hertzog, the director of care at the Fribourg Hospital, told public broadcaster RTS.
Consumer sentiment in Switzerland is down
Swiss consumers have a downbeat view of the general economic outlook, deterring them from spending money on major purchases, according to a new survey by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) carried out in July.
The general hesitation to spend is now even higher than it was after the onset of the pandemic in April 2020, researchers reported, adding that “consumers are clearly expecting gloomier times ahead”.
"Rising prices are squeezing household budgets. Concern over the increasing cost of living is likely to be a major factor in the current reluctance to purchase big-ticket items", the study found.
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