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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
School to start without mandatory tests or masks. Photo by CDC on Unsplash

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.

Member comments

  1. Note that the franc prices are inverted. It’s 0.97 Sfr / €, not 0.97€ / Sfr, and the same with the beginning of the year price. The franc is nowadays (in August) around 1.03€, and it was 0.97€ or so at the beginning of the year, so it is higher now.

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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

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

Another way to cut healthcare proposed, Switzerland ranks as the "best country in the world", and other Swiss news in our roundup on Thursday.

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

Non-emergency treatments raise the cost of healthcare

The Federal Council has recently issued its recommendations on curbing the spiralling costs of healthcare, and MPs are discussing the ways to keep expenses under control as well.

One of the many reasons for high costs is that many people use hospital emergency services for minor injuries or trivial symptoms.

According to Martin Kuhn, managing director of Regio-144 emergency transport, the number of minor cases for which the ambulance service is called is increasing sharply.

“Non-serious hospital emergencies contribute to high costs and premium growth,” said Matthias Müller, spokesperson for Santésuisse, an umbrella group for insurance companies.

Both suggest that in order to stem the sharp rise in healthcare costs, people who use emergency resources unnecessarily should pay for the service out of their own pocket, rather than have it billed to insurance companies.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How Switzerland wants to cut soaring healthcare costs
 

Home working could be back this winter

Working from home became a widespread practice during the Covid pandemic but now a number of Swiss employers are considering this option again — though for a different reason.

In order to save on heating fuel, as urged by the government, some companies, including Novartis, are looking into the possibility of “leaving employees at home”, and making them work remotely.

This would save energy in the long run, as the web platforms used by companies for their work activities would use less electricity compared to the physical sites.

READ MORE: Swiss employers to reinstate working from home in winter in event of gas shortages

Switzerland ranked ‘Best Country in the World

This may come as no surprise to those familiar with various international rankings and have seen Switzerland get high scores numerous times in the past.

Now the new US News & World Report has also ranked Switzerland the ‘best in the world’ in 2022.

The reason for the top position, according to the Report, is that Switzerland has “low unemployment, a skilled labour force and one of the highest gross domestic products per capita in the world. The country’s strong economy is powered by low corporate tax rates, a highly-developed service sector, and a high-tech manufacturing industry”.

Out of 10 criteria on which countries were rated, Switzerland got 100 points (out of 100 maximum) for its business sense, also ranking high (96.7) for quality of life.

Switzerland should better promote its languages, Council of Europe says

French and German should be  promoted more in Swiss cantons where they are non-official languages, while Italian and Romansh need to be pushed more in economic and social life, according to a report released by the Council of Europe on Wednesday.

The report also welcomes “the financial assistance provided by the federal authorities to the bilingual cantons of Bern/Berne, Fribourg/Freiburg, Graubünden/Grischun/Grigioni and Valais/Wallis for their measures in connection with multilingualism” .

READ MORE: How did Switzerland become a country with four languages?

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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