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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

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.

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday
There is a shortage of nurses In Swiss hospitals. Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels

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.

READ MORE: Heatwaves close off classic Swiss and Italian Alpine hiking routes
 

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.

READ MORE: Covid boosters not available in Switzerland until autumn

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.

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 Wednesday

Worsening education standards in Swiss schools, the outlook for the value of the Swiss Franc and other news in our daily roundup from Switzerland on Wednesday.

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

Switzerland celebrates anniversary of first train

Switzerland — famous for its punctual railways — celebrated the 175th anniversary of passenger train services in the country on Tuesday with a re-creation of the first journey featuring a steam locomotive.

The first train service on August 9, 1847 linked Zurich with Baden, 23 kilometres to the northwest — a trip which took 33 minutes.

Transport minister Simonetta Sommaruga and around 150 guests boarded the special train to Zurich to mark the anniversary, which involved historic carriages and a steam locomotive.

“The train is part of our basic service. It brings people together and strengthens cohesion in our country,” Sommaruga said, according to the ATS national news agency.

The line between Zurich and Baden was built in 16 months. One of the original bridges is still in use.

Swiss teachers concerned about education standards

Switzerland’s teachers’ association has warned of worsening standards of education at schools because of a lack of certified staff.

Association president Dagmar Rösler told a news conference that an increasing number of primary schools have had to bring in supply staff who are not qualified to be a teacher. 

Rösler said the situation was worse in the German-speaking cantons in Switzerland and that schools were having trouble recruiting teachers to fill vacant positions ahead of the new term.

Rösler warned that the knock-on effect could see parents opt to place their children in private schools or opt for home schooling.

Covid update

Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health (OFSP) announced on Tuesday that there have been 21,817 new cases of coronavirus in the last seven days. There have also been 25 additional deaths and 327 patients have been hospitalised in the same period.

Those figures reflect a 6.6 percent fall in the number of new cases but a 12.8 percent rise in the number of hospitalisations.

On Tuesday some 600 people were being treated in intensive care in Switzerland with Covid-19 patients occupying 6 percent of the places available.

The total number of deaths since the start of the pandemic in Switzerland stands at 13,559 and the overall number of people people hospitalised has reached 57,014.

Swiss Franc to remain level with the Euro

The value of the Swiss franc should remain steady at just below parity with the euro in the coming months, economists have said.

To slow inflationary trends, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) is no longer curbing the appreciation of the national currency as much, economists from the group Raffeissen said.

The franc fell below parity with the euro in early July and has remained steady since then. On Wednesday it was trading at around €0.97. At the start of the year, the franc was still worth €1.0379.

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