Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday
Covid is no longer a threat at the moment, most employees receive pay raises, and other Swiss news in our roundup on Thursday.
Health official: ‘Covid-19 is no longer scary’
Even though the number of reported infections has stabilised in Switzerland in the past week, some cantons have reinforced preventive measures, such as an obligation to wear masks in healthcare facilities.
In general, however, Covid is running out of steam and “is no longer as scary” as it used to be during previous waves, according to Rudolf Hauri, member of the Conference of Cantonal Health Directors, who added that more cases will probably emerge this winter.
“What worries me is that in addition to the increase in Covid infections, a stronger flu wave is expected this year, in addition to cold viruses”, he said. “Combined, these factors could once again result in a significantly higher burden for hospitals”.
Number of Ukrainian refugees in Switzerland is likely to double in the coming weeks
The number of those fleeing the war in Ukraine is expected to soar from the current 66,000 to 120,000 by Christmas, according to the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM)
“Everything will depend on the evolution of the war, the humanitarian response, damage to energy infrastructure, and reception capacities in the countries neighboring Ukraine”, said SEM’s spokesperson Samuel Wyss.
In the meantime, federal asylum centres “are saturated and have practically no more free beds”, SEM said on Wednesday, adding that the accommodation situation “is very tense”.
Majority of Swiss employees receive cost-of-living allowances
Even though inflation is significantly lower in Switzerland than in the EU, it is nevertheless diminishing the purchasing power of many Swiss workers.
However, most cases of labour unions negotiating with employers for inflation-adopted wage increases are successful, said Daniel Lampart, chief economist at the Swiss Trade Union Confederation.
“So far, the wage negotiations have been positive. We got the cost-of-living adjustment in most sectors. This is particularly important because health insurance premiums are rising and electricity will also be more expensive next year”, he said.
Government stands by its definition of neutrality
When Switzerland followed the EU’s lead in adopting sanctions against Russia, some politicians have said that this move violated the country’s neutrality.
After some MPs called on the government to clarify this issue, a report that was commissioned found that the "current practice provides sufficient scope to use neutrality in the present international context", the Federal Council said on Wednesday.
It added that Switzerland will continue “to retain neutrality as an instrument of foreign policy. In doing so, it aims to safeguard security, independence and prosperity, while working for a peaceful order based on international law, human rights and democracy".
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