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Spread of swine flu in Sweden slowing down: official

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15:10 CET+01:00
Swedish health officials said on Thursday that the spread of swine flu has tapered off somewhat in the last week.

“We've seen a leveling off,” said Johan Karlsson, the head of the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control (Smittskyddsinstitutet), at a press conference.

“But there are regional differences. In the counties in northern Norrland, there's been a sharp slowdown in the spread. For the country in general it hasn't been as clear cut.”

According to Karlsson, it's too early to say if this is a temporary slowdown or not, adding that a clearer picture won't likely emerge until next week.

He cautioned however that “we still have an enormous spread of infection” in the country.

Health minister Maria Larsson said that approximately 3 million Swedes have been vaccinated against the swine flu so far.

“This is an extraordinary effort which has been carried out in a fantastic fashion. The ECDC has hailed Sweden for having vaccinated the largest percentage of the population,” Larsson said at the press conference, referring to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Last week, sick leave notices climbed to their highest level so far this autumn, climbing to 4.2 percent from 4.0 percent the week before, according to the Previa healthcare company.

At the same time, the number of absence requests due to suspected cases of the swine flu dropped.

“That the number of people affected by the swine flu appears to have fallen somewhat may be the result of so many having received the vaccine,” Previa's head of medicine said in a statement.

The statistics come from a survey of roughly 80,000 workers across the country.

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