Sweden on Tuesday reported another 114 coronavirus deaths, bringing the total to 591 in a country that has adopted a softer approach to containing the outbreak than some of its European neighbours.
Sweden's Public Health Agency said it had recorded a total of 7,693 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country of around 10 million people.
It reported 114 new deaths on Tuesday, an uptick from preceding daily tolls, but cautioned that some of the fatalities occurred in previous days.
State epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said on Tuesday that the country has been averaging “a little over 40” deaths a day in the past week.
He added that Sweden saw a slight decrease in the number of daily new confirmed cases of the new coronavirus over the last few days, but said it was too early to say whether numbers had peaked.
Sweden has not imposed extraordinary lockdown orders seen elsewhere in Europe to stem the spread of the virus, instead calling for citizens to take responsibility to follow social distancing guidelines.
The government has also banned gatherings of more than 50 people and barred visits to nursing homes.
The Nordic country's softer approach has drawn criticism and curiosity abroad and been the subject of fierce debate domestically.
Sweden's government has rejected accusations it was passive in the fight to curb the virus.
“It's not business as usual in Sweden,” Health Minister Lena Hallengren told reporters last week.
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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.