Tag Archive: Editor’s Choice

Coronavirus: loss of smell indicates “very high likelihood” of infection

While there is currently no scientifically proven link between anosmia (loss of smell) and Covid-19, more and more experts are saying the symptom is a strong indicator. Gilbert Greub, head of the microbiology department at the CHUV hospital in Lausanne, is one such expert. “Given the widespread Covid-19 epidemic, I think that everyone who has a problem tasting or a problem smelling has a very high likelihood of testing positive and should be tested.

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Coronavirus: deciding who gets a ventilator

By 31 March 2020, there were around 326 Covid-19 patients in intensive care and 228 on ventilators in Switzerland. It is estimated that there are around 750 ventilators across the country. If the health system reaches overload, medical professionals in Switzerland might be forced to make the kinds of difficult decisions being made in neighbouring France and Italy.

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Coronavirus: Swiss test rate now higher than South Korea’s

This morning, Switzerland’s federal government announced the number of Covid-19 tests conducted so far in Switzerland. South Korea, a nation often cited among those with high test rates, now trails Switzerland on the number per capita tests it has conducted.

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Coronavirus: the fallibility of fatality rates

Naturally, many of us would like to know the fatality rate of Covid-19. But at this stage it is guesswork. Here are some of the problems with two of the most popular fatality rates. The most popular calculation involves dividing the number deaths by the number of cases. Epidemiologists call this a naive case fatality rate (CFR). There are two ways to calculate this rate.

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Coronavirus: a test to see if you’ve had it is in the pipeline

Coronavirus testing has been rationed in Switzerland, reserving it for high risk more severe cases, although doctors retain discretion to have anyone tested. It is likely those that have been infected and have recovered will have immunity and no longer be able to act as carriers of the disease.

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Coronavirus: infection rates in some Swiss cantons now higher than Lombardy

Lombardy, the region in northern Italy where the coronavirus outbreak first took off in Europe, now has fewer per capita cases testing positive for the virus than some Swiss cantons. Recent data from Italy show there were 179 cases per 100,000 in Lombardy. In Ticino, Switzerland’s worst affected canton, there were 329 cases per 100,000. Geneva (231) and Vaud (211) had Switzerland’s next highest rates.

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Coronavirus: estimating the death toll in Switzerland

COVID-19 has hit the world fast and we are racing to understand it, while struggling to come to terms with its deadly impact. When trying to estimate the impact, it is tempting to take the current number of deaths and divide it by the number of reported cases. However, the resulting percentage is meaningless.

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Swiss government announces further restrictions to slow spread of virus

At a press conference at 5pm on 16 March 2020, members of the Federal Council presented a list of further restrictions designed to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus, that will become active from midnight tonight. A video of the conference can be viewed below.

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Is Ibuprofen dangerous for those infected with the coronavirus?

Ibuprofen belongs to a family of drugs known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. On 14 March 2020, Olivier Véran, France’s health minister Tweeted that taking anti-inflammatory medicine “could be an aggravating factor” for those infected with Covid-19, and recommended paracetamol for those with a fever.

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Coronavirus: Swiss hospitals have around 750 breathing ventilators

One of the biggest challenges during the coronavirus outbreak will be ensuring there are enough qualified staff and equipment to keep the worst affected patients alive. Thierry Fumeaux, head of the Swiss Society of Intensive Medicine, told RTS there are 82 intensive care units (ICU) across Switzerland. These have a combined 850 places, of which 750 are equipped with breathing equipment. It is not clear how many of these places are currently available.

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Coronavirus: an estimate of the real number of infections in Switzerland

Today, according to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), there were 815 confirmed cases in Switzerland. There are obvious challenges to this figure. Possibly the most important is the time lag between infection and a confirmed case.

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Coronavirus: youngest death so far brings Swiss death toll to four

The coronavirus has claimed its fourth victim in Switzerland. A 54 year old man died yesterday in Binningen hospital in the canton of Basel-Landschaft, according to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

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Coronavirus: too late to close Swiss borders

Switzerland’s government and health officials presented a coronavirus update yesterday. Key elements of the presentation are set out below. The full coronavirus press update can be viewed above in German.

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Swiss National Bank to distribute 4 billion francs of profit

In 2019, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) made a profit of around CHF 49 billion. These profits came mainly from the rising value of the assets on the bank’s balance sheet. In 2019, the value of its holdings of foreign currency and gold rose substantially. When combined with interest, dividend income and gains on shares total profits for the year were CHF 49 billion.

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Potential relief for some Swiss renters

Every three months the rate of interest used to benchmark Swiss rents is reviewed. If it goes down some renters have the right to request a decrease in rent. This time the reference rate fell from 1.50% to 1.25%. The last time it dropped was 2 June 2017 when it fell to 1.5%. The rate is based on the average Swiss mortgage rate over three months.

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Portugal set to end tax holidays for foreign residents

Recently, the government of Portugal said it was looking at introducing a tax on foreigners residing in the country on special tax holidays, according to the magazine Bilan. Currently, foreigners moving to Portugal who spend at least 180 days a year in the country pay no income tax for a period of 10 years under a scheme that was launched 11 years ago.

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Poverty rate falls slightly in Switzerland

In 2018, the percentage of the population in Switzerland living below the poverty line fell from 8.2% (2017) to 7.9%, returning to the same level as it was in 2010. Most affected by poverty were those aged under 18 (9.6%) and those aged over 64 (13.7%).

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Switzerland moves closer to taxing flights

A Swiss parliamentary commission, tasked with looking at the introduction of an environmental tax on flights departing from Switzerland, recently voted in favour a such a tax. A majority of 17 to 8 members voted in favour of the move. The tax would range from CHF 30 to CHF 120 per passenger depending on flight distance and class.

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Swiss National Bank expects annual profit of 49 billion francs

According to provisional calculations, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) expects to make a profit of around CHF 49 billion in 2019. Most of this comes from the rising value of the SNB’s foreign currency positions (+CHF 40 billion) and a valuation gain on gold holdings (+CHF 6.9 billion).

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Facebook’s Libra has failed, says Switzerland’s president

Facebook’s plan to launch its digital currency Libra is unlikely to succeed Ueli Maurer, Switzerland’s president, told SRF. Maurer doesn’t think central banks will accept the basket of currencies underpinning the cryptocurrency. “The project, in this form, has thus failed” he said.

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