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HEALTH

Swedish government ‘wants more powers to fight coronavirus pandemic’

The Swedish government wants to be able to quickly make decisions on how to tackle the coronavirus, without first obtaining Parliament’s approval, according to Swedish paper Expressen.

Swedish government 'wants more powers to fight coronavirus pandemic'
Swedish Minister for Health and Social Affairs Lena Hallengren (L) speaks at a joint press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven about the coronavirus at the government in Stockholm, Sw

It would be the most far-reaching powers of a government since the Second World War.

“This would be unique for Sweden”, says Mark Klamberg, professor of international law at Stockholm University. “It can be about restricting public groups, closing down shopping centres or imposing restrictions on transport – measures that need to be taken quickly to limit the spread of infection in society.”

The Swedish government wants to temporarily gain increased powers to be able to make this type of decision without first having the legislative proposals go through Parliament.

According to Expressen, a draft proposal has been sent to the opposition but the Moderate Party has reservations.

Sweden has got broad media attention for its soft approach to the coronavirus outbreak. But it has rejected the idea that life is carrying on uninterrupted as the country passes 6,000 confirmed cases.

Sweden has not ordered a lockdown, instead issuing recommendations and calling on citizens to “each take responsibility” and follow the guidelines.

On Wednesday, new binding guidelines asked everyone in the country to reduce social contact and keep at a distance from others at all time.

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Health Minister Lena Hallengren, who together with Deputy Prime Minister Isabella Lövin and Foreign Minister Ann Linde held a special briefing for international media, stressed that the Nordic country had introduced a string of measures and was ready to do more if needed.

People over the age of 70 and in risk groups have been strongly encouraged to avoid contact with other people, and higher education institutions have been advised to conduct classes remotely.

Economic measures have been adopted to make sick leave less costly, and people have been repeatedly asked to work from home and self-isolate at the slightest symptom of the new coronavirus.

Among the stricter measures are bans on gatherings of more than 50 people and on visits to nursing homes.

What should you be doing to help reduce the rate of infection?

In Sweden, the official advice requires everyone to:

  • Stay at home if you have any cold- or flu-like symptoms, even if they are mild and you would normally continue life as normal. Stay at home until you have been fully symptom-free for at least two days.
     
  • Practise good hygiene, by regularly and thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water, using hand sanitiser when that’s not possible, and covering any coughs and sneezes with your elbow.
     
  • Keep distance from all other people when in public places. That includes shops, parks, museums, and on the street, for example. The World Health Organisation recommends keeping at least a 1.5-2 metre distance.
     
  • Avoid large gatherings, including parties, weddings, and other activities.
     
  • Work from home if you can. Employers have been asked to ensure this happens where possible.
     
  • Avoid all non-essential travel, both within and outside Sweden. That includes visits to family, planned holidays, and any other trips that can be avoided.
     
  • If you have to travel, avoid busy times such as rush hour if you can. This reduces the number of people on public transport and makes it easier for people to keep their distance.
     
  • If you are over 70 or belong to a high-risk group, you should stay at home and reduce all social contacts. Avoid going to the shops (get groceries delivered or try to find someone who can help you), but you can go outside if you keep distance from other people. Read more about the help available to those in risk groups here.
     
  • By following these precautions, we can all help to protect those who are most at risk and to reduce the rate of infection, which in turn reduces the burden on Sweden's healthcare sector.
     
  • Read more detail about the precautions we should all be taking in this paywall-free article. Advice in English is also available from Sweden's Public Health Agency and the World Health Organisation.

 

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HEALTH

Swedish opposition proposes ‘rapid tests for ADHD’ to cut gang crime

The Moderate Party in Stockholm has called for children in so called "vulnerable areas" to be given rapid tests for ADHD to increase treatment and cut gang crime.

Swedish opposition proposes 'rapid tests for ADHD' to cut gang crime

In a press release, the party proposed that treating more children in troubled city areas would help prevent gang crime, given that “people with ADHD diagnoses are “significantly over-represented in the country’s jails”. 

The idea is that children in so-called “vulnerable areas”, which in Sweden normally have a high majority of first and second-generation generation immigrants, will be given “simpler, voluntary tests”, which would screen for ADHD, with those suspected of having the neuropsychiatric disorder then put forward for proper evaluations to be given by a child psychiatrist. 

“The quicker you can put in place measures, the better the outcomes,” says Irene Svenonius, the party’s leader in the municipality, of ADHD treatment, claiming that children in Sweden with an immigrant background were less likely to be medicated for ADHD than other children in Sweden. 

In the press release, the party said that there were “significant differences in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD within Stockholm country”, with Swedish-born children receiving diagnosis and treatment to a higher extent, and with ADHD “with the greatest probability” underdiagnosed in vulnerable areas. 

At a press conference, the party’s justice spokesman Johan Forsell, said that identifying children with ADHD in this areas would help fight gang crime. 

“We need to find these children, and that is going to help prevent crime,” he said. 

Sweden’s climate minister Annika Strandhäll accused the Moderates of wanting to “medicate away criminality”. 

Lotta Häyrynen, editor of the trade union-backed comment site Nya Mitten, pointed out that the Moderates’s claim to want to help children with neuropsychiatric diagnoses in vulnerable areas would be more credible if they had not closed down seven child and youth psychiatry units. 

The Moderate Party MP and debater Hanif Bali complained about the opposition from left-wing commentators and politicians.

“My spontaneous guess would have been that the Left would have thought it was enormously unjust that three times so many immigrant children are not getting a diagnosis or treatment compared to pure-Swedish children,” he said. “Their hate for the Right is stronger than their care for the children. 

Swedish vocab: brottsförebyggande – preventative of crime 

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