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More than 40,000 Swiss companies seek state aid for virus impact

ZURICH (Reuters) - Around 42,000 companies have asked the Swiss government for aid to help compensate workers put on shorter hours as demand drops due to the coronavirus epidemic, a government official said on Thursday.

Around 11% of the workforce -- 570,000 people -- is affected by shorter hours, Boris Zuercher, labour directorate head at the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, told a news briefing in Bern.

Compensation for workers on short hours is the government's main tool to prevent layoffs at times of sharp economic downturns.

(Reporting by Michael Shields, editing by John Revill)