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

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

Today in Switzerland: A round-up of the latest news on Monday
Picturesque Zug has the highest proportion of wealthy people. Photo by

Nearly three million people in Switzerland have contracted Covid-19

“Serological studies conducted last November found that about 20 percent of the population had Covid-19 antibodies,” the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) told NZZ am Sonntag.

Since November, an additional 10 percent had tested positive, altogether adding up to one-third of the population since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.  

However, the real number is likely higher as many people might have been infected without knowing it — for instance, those who had no symptoms were not tested and are not included in the statistics.

A nurse takes a blood sample from a person to perform a serological test . Photo by Julio Cesar AGUILAR / AFP

Employers’ association: Unvaccinated people should be transferred to other jobs

Anyone who  refuses to be vaccinated but occupies a position in which they are in close contact with people, should be transferred to other posts, Swiss Employers’ Union said.

This statement is based on an earlier court decision, ruling that “employees who don’t want to be vaccinated but who present an increased risk to particularly vulnerable people, can be assigned to another post within the same company, ” said Fredy Greuter, spokesperson for the Swiss Employers’ Union.

Switzerland gets its own virus mutation

English, South African, Brazilian, Indian…and now there is also a Swiss Covid variant.

It was reportedly detected in a 57-year-old man who lives near Turin in Italy. The mutation was identified as “Swiss” because it is most frequently detected in Switzerland, according to Andrea Sottile, General Director of Turin’s Istituto di Candiolo.

“Like the English mutation, the Swiss version is highly contagious”, the Italian researchers said.

But Swiss infection specialist Christian Garzoni noted that the Swiss variant “is one of many. It is probably no more dangerous than the English variant and responds to the vaccine”.

READ MORE: India Covid variant found in Switzerland: health authority

Zug’s tax policy attracts record number of millionaires

Tiny Zug has seen an influx of millionaire residents, making it the Swiss canton with the highest proportion of wealthy people.

In 1969, 10 out of every 1,000 taxpayers could boast a fortune of more than one million francs. Since then, that number has been increasing, to over 130 today, which is a proportion of one in eight.

In the whole of Switzerland, “only” 62 out of 1,000 residents are millionaires, so Zug is well ahead of the national average.

Zug has the edge because, according to Christoph A. Schaltegger, professor of political economy at the University of Lucerne, it has an attractive tax structure for both foreign and domestic millionaires.

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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Three scenarios: How Switzerland plans to fight a Covid resurgence

Swiss government has devised three contingency plans that could be implemented to fight a new outbreak. What are they?

Three scenarios: How Switzerland plans to fight a Covid resurgence
Authorities want to prevent overcrowded hospitals if new wave comes. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

Although Switzerland relaxed a number of coronavirus rules from June 26th and 28th, “the pandemic is not over”, as Health Minister Alain Berset said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Berset said Switzerland should not become complacent, with last summer a warning against feeling that the battle is won. 

He added, however, that the new wave is unlikely to be as large as the previous ones due to the country’s vaccination campaign.

This situation leaves a degree of uncertainty for which the government wants to be prepared as well as possible, Berset noted.

The Federal Council established a “just-in-case” procedure on Wednesday for three possible scenarios that could take place in the autumn and winter. 

These plans focus mainly on the rapid detection of variants and the continuation of vaccination, testing, and tracing.

The best-case scenario: status quo

In this scenario, the number of cases remains at a low level, though small outbreaks are still possible.

The number of infections may increase slightly due to seasonal factors — the virus is known to spread slower in summer and faster in autumn and winter—  but does not place a significant burden on the health system.

If this happens, no measures beyond those already in place would be necessary.

READ MORE: ANALYSIS: Is Switzerland lifting its Covid-19 restrictions too quickly?

Not so good: more contaminations

In this second scenario, there is an increase in the number of cases in autumn or winter.

There may be several reasons for this, for example the large proportion of unvaccinated people, seasonal effects — people tend to stay indoors together in cold weather, and contaminations are easier — or the appearance of new, more infectious variants.

This situation could overburden the health system and require the reintroduction of certain measures, such as the obligation to wear a mask outdoors.

Booster vaccinations may also be necessary.

The worst: new virus mutations

In scenario three, one or more new variants appear, against which the vaccine or the post-recovery immunity are less effective or no longer effective.

A new wave of pandemic emerges, requiring strong intervention by the public authorities and a new vaccination.

Which of the three scenarios is most likely to happen?

The government hasn’t said, but judging by the comments of health officials, the latter two are the strongest contenders.

Firstly, because the highly contagious Delta mutation, which is spreading quickly through many countries, is expected to be dominant in Switzerland within a few weeks.

It is expected that the virus will spread mostly to those who are not vaccinated and, to a lesser degree, to people who have only had one shot of the vaccine, according to Andreas Cerny, epidemiologist at the University of Bern

READ MORE: How Switzerland plans to contain the Delta variant

Another concern is related to the appearance of the new variants which could be as or possibly even more contagious than Delta and not as responsive to the current vaccines.

The government said the best chance of avoiding the second or third scenarios is to ensure people are vaccinated. 

“Widespread vaccination of the population is crucial to relieve the burden on the healthcare system and to manage the epidemic. A possible increase in the number of coronavirus cases in the autumn will largely depend on the proportion of the population that has been vaccinated,” the government wrote in a press statement.

The government has also indicating it is preparing for booster vaccinations to take place in 2022 and are encouraging cantons to keep their vaccine infrastructures in place.