‘Work from home, don’t hug your friends’: Swedish PM Stefan Löfven’s warning as coronavirus cases rise

'Work from home, don't hug your friends': Swedish PM Stefan Löfven's warning as coronavirus cases rise
Health Minister Lena Hallengren, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and Public Health Agency director-general Johan Carlson. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven urged people to get better at following coronavirus recommendations to curb the rising infection rate in Sweden.

Sweden had long been spared a large second wave of coronavirus infections as seen in many other countries in Europe, but concern has been growing in recent weeks as the number of new cases is again increasing.

Löfven said that people had become less careful about following health and safety recommendations, and urged employers to make it possible for their staff to work from home if the nature of their work allows. He also urged people not to attend or organise crowded house parties, keep washing their hands, and not hug their friends.

“The crisis is not over, far from it. The things we do right at this stage, we will get back later, and what we do wrong we will suffer for later,” he told a press conference on Thursday afternoon.

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No new restrictions were introduced on Thursday, and none were lifted. The comments made by Löfven on Thursday are in line with what Swedish authorities have been recommending since the peak of the outbreak in spring.

Sweden last month discussed raising the limit of people attending public events from 50 to 500 as of October 1st, and it was unclear whether or not this would happen. At this stage, it is only a proposal, and when asked about it, Health Minister Lena Hallengren said the government had not yet made a decision to implement the new rule.

She said the proposal to raise the limit was based on a low spread of infection, and while the increase in infections was still “not very steep”, she could not say whether a decision to raise the limit would come.

“We think we're at a stage now where we don't really know which way it is going to go,” she said.

Public Health Agency director-general Johan Carlson described the situation in Europe, where several countries are seeing a sharp rise in infections, as “troubling”, and said such a development was possible in Sweden, too.

He said Sweden was currently seeing a small but widespread increase of community transmission, rather than cluster outbreaks, and urged people to follow social distancing recommendations.

“We're seeing this increase in all working-age groups and workplaces are an important source of the spread of infection, and we therefore again want to tell employers to provide opportunities to work from home,” he said.

A total of 90,289 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Sweden since the start of the outbreak.


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