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Today in Switzerland: A round-up of the latest news on Friday

Find out what's going on today in Switzerland with The Local's short roundup of the news.

Could one of these breads contain pesticides? Photo by Bruno Thethe on Unsplash
Could one of these breads contain pesticides? Photo by Bruno Thethe on Unsplash

Almost 300,000 Covid cases recorded during the holidays

Omicron wreaked havoc in Switzerland during the Christmas-New Year period, with 112,445 people testing positive between December 27th and January 2nd.

The following week, even more cases were detected – 180,562 in total.

Overall, a 60.6 percent increase in infections has been reported in the last two weeks alone.

READ MORE: Covid hotspots: ‘More hospitalisations’ predicted for Switzerland’s as cases increase 

Some bread sold in Switzerland contains harmful pesticides

A laboratory analysis revealed that five types of breads sold by major Swiss retailers contain traces of pesticides.

Out of 28 breads found at Aldi, Coop, Lidl and Migros, five contain residues of potentially toxic chemicals, according to a consumer report by RTS public broadcaster.

However, the quantities of these additives found in breads are too low to be harmful to health.

“A 70-kilogram person could eat 700 slices of bread containing small amount of these substances every day without risk”, toxicologist Nicolas Roth told RTS.

This table (in French) indicates, in orange on the upper right side, the breads where traces of chemicals were discovered.

Five out of 28 breads contain traces of pesticides. Image: RTS

Regional trains come to the aid of Léman Express

Léman Express, the train commonly used by cross-border workers commuting from France to their jobs in the Geneva area, had cut some of its services because a number of its staff members are in quarantine.

However, to fill the gap, the double-decker RegioExpress will stop at additional stations between Geneva’s Cornavin and the French town Annemasse.

Since last weekend, only half of the Léman Express trains have been traveling between Coppet (VD) and Annemasse, reducing its service to one train per half hour and per direction, instead of the usual frequency of one every 15 minutes.

From next week, however, RegioExpress will pick up the slack, fetching and dropping off passengers at small stations where it usually doesn’t stop, including Chêne-Bourg, Genève-Champel and Lancy-Bachet.

READ MORE: Why Swiss trains are less punctual — and what is being done about it

Swiss emigrants more likely to return to their country

A new migration study from the Federal statistical Office (OFS) shows a link between the return rate and place of birth and nationality.

“People born in Switzerland are more inclined to return home than those born abroad”, the study found.

Of the Swiss who left the country in 2011, half were back in 2020 and  two-thirds within three years of departure. Among people of foreign nationality, the rate of return was much lower — 17 percent.

More Swiss than foreigners return home. Image: OFS

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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For members


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

Questions raised about Swiss fuel prices, further damage to Swiss glaciers, and other news from Switzerland in our Friday roundup.

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

Swiss officials probe high fuel prices

While the price of crude oil is at the same level as before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, gasoline in Switzerland has gotten more expansive.

Right now, a litre of unleaded 95 costs 2.14 francs. However, “if there were a direct link between the price of crude oil and that of fuel, gasoline should cost 1.89 francs per litre”, the same price as before the war, Blick writes in a report.

Though Ramon Werner, head of Swiss fuels supplier Oel-Pool, said that crude oil and fuels are two completely different products, the Swiss Price Monitor’s office is now investigating whether the industry is charging unjustifiably high markups.

 “We have received many complaints in which it is assumed that crude oil price increases are passed through more quickly than corresponding decreases”, said Beat Niederhauser, Deputy Price Monitor.

Heatwave:  Swiss mountain peak resurfaces after 2,000 years

Le Col de Tsanfleuron, which connects cantons of Vaud and Valais at an altitude of 2,800 metres, has been buried under ice for almost two millennia — until now.

Only a decade ago, the thickness of its ice cover was 15 metres.

However, due to this summer’s heatwave, the glacier, which is a part of the Diablerets massif, has now been partially freed, and will be “entirely in the open air”, in a few weeks.

The loss of thickness of the glaciers in the Diablerets region “will be on average thee times higher this year compared to the last ten summers”, according to Mauro Fischer, researcher at the University of Bern.

In all, the summer of 2022 has been disastrous for Switzerland’s glaciers.

Heatwave-related accelerated melting is shifting Switzerland’s borders and causing other irreversible damage.

 READ MORE: Climate change transforming Switzerland ‘into Tuscany’, scientists warn

Fewer apartments for rent, higher prices, and no relief in sight

The number of new constructions does not keep pace with the increase in Switzerland’s population and the corresponding demand for more housing, according to new data released by Raiffeisen bank.

Throughout the country, apartment vacancy rate was 1.25 percent in June of this year, down from 1.54 percent at the same time in 2021, the research shows.

The bank concludes that “abundant supply observed over the past ten years is rapidly eroding, resulting in an increase in rental prices”.

To make matters worse for apartment seekers, “this is only the beginning”, Raiffeisen warned, adding that the causes of this situation are linked to the increase in the population, including newly arrived immigrants.

READ MORE : How foreigners are changing Switzerland

Make a wish upon a star…

Tonight, you will be able to see countless shooting stars with the naked eye in the sky over Switzerland.

This is due to the Perseid meteor shower, a once-a-year event when larger meteors enter the atmosphere.

If you are lucky, you can spot up to a hundred shooting stars per hour — but only under good observation conditions, including a clear sky and a secluded place away from bright city lights.

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]