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

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday
A campaign poster in favour of the "burka ban" referendum in 2021. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

Switzerland's population has reached a 9-million mark; hospitals say proposed tariff reform will affect patient care; and other news in our roundup on Thursday.


Milestone: Switzerland’s population reaches the 9-million mark

Switzerland is now officially a country of 9 million inhabitants, according to data published on Wednesday by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO). 

Specifically, 8,902,308 people are permanent residents, while 104,356 are asylum seekers.

Among the permanent population, 73.38 percent have Swiss nationality, and 26.62 percent are foreigners.

Men represent 49.64 percent of the population and women account for 50.36 percent.

Switzerland is now well on its way toward reaching the 10-million mark, which demographic experts predict will likely happen in a few years.

READ ALSO: What Switzerland needs to do to accommodate 10 million residents 

Face covering to be banned in public places

On Wednesday, Switzerland’s parliament banned face coverings, two years after a narrow majority of the population backed such a measure in a national vote.

While outlawing all kinds of face covers is not specifically directed at Muslim women, many believe the move intends to target the Islamic niqab (a piece of clothing that covers the face except for eyes) or burqa (a full-body veil that covers the body and face).

The maximum fine for breaking this law will be 1,000 francs.

READ ALSO: Switzerland's 'burka ban' curtails rather than strengthens individual freedoms 


Proposed hospital reform will impact patient care, critics say

In an effort to reduce soaring healthcare costs, various proposals are put forth for debate and possible implementation.

One, which would force all Swiss hospitals to apply the same low tariffs as the cheapest hospitals currently do, has sparked criticism from the healthcare community.

A consortium of hospitals has sent a letter to Health Minister Alain Berset on Wednesday, arguing that requiring all medical facilities to bill the same amount would “endanger patients.”

If the reform were implemented as proposed, hospitals would no longer be able to guarantee the safety of care for all patients, they said.

The reason is that the new approach would not differentiate between large university hospitals which provide a broad spectrum of services, including emergencies, and small facilities which offer only a few treatments.


Switzerland is blamed for shortage of nurses in Italy

According to a report in Corriere del Ticino (CDT) on Wednesday, northern Italian region of Lombardy is ’losing’ its healthcare professionals, who prefer to work across the border in Switzerland, where “salaries are three times higher.” 

Citing an Italian newspaper, Repubblica, CDT reported that “over four thousand healthcare professionals cross the border to work in Switzerland. A very high number, considering that just over ten years ago, they were less than a thousand.”

To keep these professionals, especially nurses, from seeking work in Ticino, the Lombardy and national governments are “working on a better compensation system to encourage workers to remain in Italy."

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