Two patients in intensive care as coronavirus cases rise to more than 300

Two patients in intensive care as coronavirus cases rise to more than 300
Representatives from Sweden's Public Health Agency, National Board of Health and Welfare, Karolinska Institute and Civil Contingencies Agency at a press conference on Monday. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT
The number of coronavirus cases in Sweden has surpassed 350, with more than 200 in the Stockholm region and two patients in intensive care. Here's what we know as of Wednesday morning.
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Cases of the novel coronavirus, also called COVID-19, have now been confirmed in Stockholm, Västra Götaland, Uppsala, Jönköping, Skåne, Örebro, Värmland, Halland, Gävleborg, Norrbotten, Västerbotten, Östergötland, Sörmland/Södermanland, Kalmar, Dalarna and Blekinge.

Blekinge and Dalarna's first cases was reported on Wednesday morning after Kalmar reported its first two cases on Tuesday and five other regions reported their first cases on Monday.

The total number of cases stood at 357 as of 10am on Wednesday, including 207 in Stockholm.

On Tuesday, the Karolinska hospital in Huddinge, southern Stockholm, confirmed that two coronavirus patients were being cared for in intensive care, which Dagens Nyheter was first to report.

The hospital declined to offer further comments about the patients' condition.

Besides those two cases, there have been no further reports so far of serious illness in Sweden, although unless there are major incidents to report not all health regions comment publicly on patient status for reasons of confidentiality.

Read more about all the patients in the table and map below.

On Monday, a Stockholm hospital confirmed a case which was not apparently linked to overseas travel or contact with a previous patient, and the following day health authorities raised the risk of the virus spreading in Sweden to “very high”.

The Public Health Agency said there were signs of so-called community infection in the Stockholm healthcare region and Västra Götaland in western Sweden, but no widespread such outbreak in Sweden as a whole.

“We're talking about a handful of people that we can classify as domestic cases. Perhaps fewer than ten,” Public Health Agency director-general Johan Carlson told a press conference on Tuesday.

Health officials stressed that it could not confirm that the virus was spreading in Sweden, but said that because there were a few cases where they could not link it to anything else, it could not be ruled out. 

The majority of Sweden's confirmed cases so far contracted the virus on trips to northern Italy – the country hardest hit in Europe – or via contact with one of those patients. Other countries include Iran, Germany and the US.

Italy has extended its quarantine to cover the entire country.

THE CORONAVIRUS IN SWEDEN:

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Several schools across the country where a student has been confirmed as a coronavirus patient have closed due to concern of the virus spreading.

Around 80 percent of those infected with the virus suffer only mild symptoms according to the World Health Organisation, although even patients with mild symptoms can spread the disease. Groups such as the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions are thought to be particularly at risk (read more about precautionary measures here).

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Sweden's Public Health Agency announced on March 4th that it would begin testing more people for the virus.

As well as testing those who are showing symptoms after travel abroad or who have been in close contact with confirmed cases, now the agency has recommended that all of Sweden's laboratories that are carrying out coronavirus tests look into routinely testing patients with respiratory symptoms without a known cause, with the highest priority being the most severely ill patients.

“Our assessment is that our testing is efficient, but we are now widening the net further,” state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said.

Sweden had previously focused on testing only people who have either had contact with people confirmed to have the virus, or who have recently travelled to affected regions and are showing symptoms.

The risk of the virus spreading in Sweden was upgraded to “very high” on March 10th, after being judged as “moderate” on March 2nd and “low on February 25th.  

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The coronavirus is a respiratory illness and initially similar to a common cold. The outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan – which is an international transport hub – began at a fish market in late December and since then more than 4,000 people have died, with more than 114,000 confirmed cases globally.

More than 64,000 people have recovered from the infection, according to John Hopkins CSSE.

Sweden's official advice is still that as long as you are healthy, it is best to keep living your life as normal, taking the precautions you would during normal flu season, such as washing your hands regularly. If you do develop symptoms, especially after travelling to a high-risk area, call the national healthline 1177.

If you have questions about the coronavirus, you can call Sweden's information number 113 13.

Sweden's national emergency number, only for emergencies, is 112. 

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