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

Swiss lakes and rivers drying up, house prices climbing, and other news from Switzerland in The Local's short roundup.

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday
Alarm systems on some Swiss elevators are not adapted to 5G networks. Photo by Russ Ward on Unsplash

Drought: Swiss lakes and rivers don’t have enough water

The water levels of Lakes Constance, Walen, Lucerne and Lugano have reached historic lows, according to the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN).

Continued drought has also impacted some rivers, whose levels are “strongly to moderately” below average for the season, FOEN said.

The level of the Rhine and the Reuss, for instance, is “among the lowest ever recorded during the summer months”, while the Aare and the Limmat show low levels only observed “every two to five years”.

READ MORE: Body stress, drought and borders: How the heatwave affects Switzerland

Swiss operators to phase out 2G cellular networks

The second-generation mobile networks have become obsolete with the introduction of the much faster 4G and 5G broadbands, and Switzerland will deactivate the old system at the beginning of 2023.

However, while most people already own devices that support 4G and 5G standards, some will be affected by the change.

The reason is that some emergency call systems, such as those installed on older elevators, will no longer work.

The same holds true for some navigation systems (GPS), which use the 2G and are not yet adapted to newer technologies.

The media reports that although some elevator and GPS manufacturers are not happy about the change, both Swisscom and Sunrise said they informed the affected industries “early enough” of the planned 2G shutdown.

Property prices continue to rise despite higher interest rates

The average purchase price for single-family homes in Switzerland went up by 5.6 percent in the first six months of this year, and the cost of apartments rose by 3.2 percent, according to a new survey by mortgage broker Moneypark and the Zurich-based startup Pricehubble, which specialises in real estate data.

Along with mounting real estate prices, fixed-rate mortgage rates have also been climbing.

As a result of these developments, “many mortgage holders have opted for offers with shorter maturities», the survey found.  

“In particular, mortgages with maturities of more than 10 years were less in demand”.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why not paying off your mortgage in Switzerland can save you money

Roche launches new diagnostic test for Covid

The Swiss drug manufacturer has developed a new test that should allow better understanding of coronavirus infections.

Specifically, the product, called Elecsys IGRA, should shed light on immune responses to the virus and vaccinations, Roche said in a press release.

“This in turn may help understand and identify those at higher risk of progressing to severe disease during an existing or future infection. This is particularly important in immunocompromised and high-risk patient groups.The test results can help healthcare professionals to provide them with long-term guidance like appropriate treatment”, the company added.

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: 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]