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

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

Who knew? Switzerland’s public transportation is not the most expensive in Europe. Photo by SBB
Who knew? Switzerland’s public transportation is not the most expensive in Europe. Photo by SBB

Number of new Covid infections reaches record-high

On Wednesday, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) recorded 38,015 new contaminations — the highest number ever reported in Switzerland in a 24-hour period. 

These are only the infections detected by official tests. However, given that there are also tens of thousands of unsymptomatic and undeclared cases, the more realistic number is between 50,000 and 100,000 infections per day, according to Jürg Utzinger, director of the Tropical and Public Health Institute.

Virginie Masserey, head of FOPH’s infection control unit said “It is possible that we have reached the peak” of the pandemic, which implies that number of cases should begin to drop very soon

READ MORE: Covid in Switzerland: ‘It is possible that we’ve reached the peak’

Surprise: public transport in Switzerland is cheaper than you think

Life is expensive in Switzerland, but a new study conducted in seven European countries shows this reputation does not hold true in the public transport sector.

Swiss fares are within the European average, according to Litra, the information service for public transport in Switzerland, which carried out the study.

Taking into account of the purchasing power of different countries and comparing prices of various types of travel, researchers found that public transport is most expensive in the UK and cheapest in Austria, with Switzerland in the lower middle.

In addition, Swiss public transport is distinguished by high quality “with an exceptionally good price/performance ratio”, the study found.

Switzerland is also first in terms of network density and punctuality — though it has slipped in the latter category lately.

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

Verbier voted “best ski resort in the world”

The Valais resort climbed to the top of the world rankings in the World Ski Award 2021competition, the results of which were announced this week.

Verbier, a popular destination for skiers from the UK, was chosen out of 25 international contenders vying for the title.

World Ski Awards, an organisation that aims to drive up standards within the ski industry, praised  the resort’s “nearly 100 lifts and more than 400 km of ski runs for all levels of expertise”. It added Verbier “is also a freeride paradise, a must for skiers from all over the world”.

Verbier beat second-place holder, Kitzbühel in Austria, as well as France’s Val Thorens, which has won the title since 2016.

Omicron will not harm Switzerland’s economy long-term

Despite the impact that Omicron has had on certain industries, the Swiss economy should return to its pre-pandemic growth level this year, according to experts at Raiffeisen bank.

Covid-related restrictions will have only temporary and steadily decreasing impact on the economy, they say.

Even with an explosion in infections and an unprecedented number of quarantines due to Omicron, Raiffeisen economists estimate losses from worker absences at the equivalent of only 0.3 percent of annual GDP.

 “The impact of the coronavirus was able to be absorbed surprisingly quickly in Switzerland”, the economists pointed out.

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 Wednesday

Another case of monkeypox found in Switzerland, Covid boosters could no longer be free, and other Swiss news in our daily roundup.

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

Second case of monkeypox found in Switzerland

The virus was detected in a person in Geneva, who was contaminated “during a trip abroad”, the canton’s Health Department has confirmed.

It added that the infected person “is currently in isolation, his general condition is good and does not currently require hospitalisation”.

Contact tracing is underway to find people who have been exposed to the sick person, the canton said.

This is the second known case of monkeypox in Switzerland, following the one detected in Bern on Saturday in a person who also contracted the virus while travelling abroad.

Globally, about 90 cases have been detected so far.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What is monkeypox and what is Switzerland doing about it?

Health authorities: Travellers should pay for Covid boosters themselves

According to newest recommendations of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), people travelling abroad who need second booster doses must pay for the shots themselves.

As the fourth vaccine dose is currently recommended only for people with a severely weakened immune system, everyone outside of this group will be charged as yet undefined fee.

Until now, all the Covid vaccinations had been free of charge.

The proposal was sent to the cantons for consultation until June 1st. If agreed on, the Federal Council will adjust the Epidemics Ordinance accordingly on June 10th.

Additional trains in service over the  Ascension and Pentcoast weekends

Road traffic is typically very heavy during the two holiday weekends, falling this year on May 26th – 29th and  June  4th – 6th, respectively.

For travellers who prefer to take the train during this busy period, Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), is “significantly expanding” its service towards Ticino, one of the most popular destinations for public holiday weekends.

“There will be numerous additional trains. We will also be increasing the number of seats available on regular trains”, including between Zurich/Basel and Ticino via the Gotthard Base Tunnel, the company announced.

Switzerland and NATO want ‘closer ties’

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reassured Swiss Defense Minister Viola Amherd on Tuesday that the military alliance would maintain a strong partnership with Switzerland.

He said he is “open to closer ties”— a message that “was very important because I want a close collaboration” too, Amherd responded.

Even though some Swiss politicians are pushing for a greater degree of NATO integration due to uncertainties related to war in Ukraine, Switzerland cannot become a member because of its longstanding policy of neutrality.

Switzerland has nevertheless a relationship with the organisation through its Partnership for Peace (PfP) program, and also participates in military exercises with NATO related to cyberattacks.

“We are studying the question” of how Switzerland can further its collaboration with NATO without compromising its neutrality, Amherd said.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why isn’t Switzerland in NATO

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]