Stockholm confirms first coronavirus case without known links to foreign travel

The Local Sweden
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Stockholm confirms first coronavirus case without known links to foreign travel
The Stockholm hospital with the confirmed coronavirus case. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

A patient at a major Stockholm hospital tested positive for the new coronavirus on Sunday evening, despite no apparent link to overseas travel or to a previously known case.


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A second patient with no connection to the first has also been tested for the virus. Both are being cared for in isolation at Huddinge hospital in the south of the capital city.

Authorities are also carrying out contact tracing to identify people the pair have been in contact with.

The hospital where the cases were discovered, Saint Göran Hospital in the west of the capital city, entered a so-called "state of readiness" following the confirmation. This designation allows the hospital to make decisions more quickly in order to limit the potential spread of disease, and also paves the way for collaboration between the city's hospitals.

Several hospital employees who have had contact with the infected patient and the patient suspected to be infected have been temporarily taken out of service.

There is no connection between the two patients, and nor are they known to have travelled to any of the areas considered at risk or had contact with any of the confirmed cases of the virus. They both arrived at the hospital on Friday.

"This is a situation which we are prepared for. We are now working widely, in collaboration with resources from Disease Control Stockholm, to identify employees and other people who may have been in close contact, and to support them. Our focus is now on continuing to run healthcare at the hospital with a high level of security and awareness, and to continue being alert and following instructions from Disease Control to prevent the spread of Covid-19," said hospital CEO Peter Holm in a statement.

The hospital did not share information about the severity of the condition of the two patients.

As of Monday morning, none of Sweden's 247 confirmed coronavirus patients had been reported to have serious symptoms, although not all regions share this information due to patient confidentiality rules. Although the vast majority of people who catch coronavirus are likely to experience only mild symptoms and make a full recovery, even with mild symptoms it is possible to infect others.

So what does Monday's news mean for our understanding of how the virus is spreading in Sweden?

"You could interpret it as being the first case of domestic infection, but we don't yet know," Stockholm infectious disease doctor Per Follin told the TT newswire, referring to cases where the virus is caught neither abroad ("import case") or from someone who themselves caught the virus abroad. 

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