Why Sweden’s total coronavirus death toll decreased on Friday

Why Sweden's total coronavirus death toll decreased on Friday
Swedish health authorities at Thursday's press conference. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT
No new coronavirus deaths were reported in Sweden on Friday, for the first time since March. In fact, the total death toll decreased.

Sweden's official death toll was revised downwards by three on Friday. A total of 5,763 people have now died since the start of the outbreak after testing positive for the coronavirus (down from the 5,766 coronavirus deaths reported yesterday), according to the Public Health Agency's latest statistics.

A total of 82,323 people have so far tested positive for the coronavirus, 356 more than Thursday.

Sweden's new daily deaths have been falling slowly but steadily since the peak in mid-April.

If you look at the statistics, you will see a couple of days from late July onwards that also have no recorded coronavirus deaths. This is because when Sweden reports its figures they are not always from the past 24 hours, due to delays when its 21 administrative regions add their data to the centralised database.

However, today was the first time since March that Sweden did not report any new deaths at all when it released its latest figures.

Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet reports that the reason was that one of Sweden's regions, Dalarna, had updated its figures. Sweden's official statistics include everyone who dies within 30 days of testing positive for the coronavirus, but Dalarna had accidentally reported deaths that happened longer ago than that.

“It's nothing strange. We recently carried out a quality control of our numbers and saw that three deaths should not be counted. They had Covid-19 so long ago that it wasn't the cause of death,” Theresa Granqvist, press officer for Region Dalarna, told Aftonbladet.

This happened on a day when no other coronavirus deaths were reported to the Public Health Agency, which is why the total number decreased.

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The statistics show the number of people in Sweden who have died with coronavirus. That's everyone who has died after testing positive; it doesn't mean that the virus itself was a cause of death for all these cases.

Sweden gets this data because its system of social security numbers (personnummer) means that all deaths are registered in a centralised system. Then the Public Health Agency can check with regions (in Sweden it's the individual regions which are responsible for healthcare) which of these deaths were people with the coronavirus — of course, this is only possible if the deceased people were tested for the virus.

The National Board of Health and Welfare keeps records of everyone where a doctor determined that the coronavirus was the main cause of death, regardless of whether or not the patient tested positive. According to its latest available figures (until August 3rd), 5,587 people have died from the coronavirus.

Out of these around 90 percent also tested positive for the virus, according to the board.


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