‘We are seriously concerned’: Stockholm health chief’s warning as coronavirus cases rise

'We are seriously concerned': Stockholm health chief's warning as coronavirus cases rise
People outside Stockholm City Hall on September 25th. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT
More and more people are testing positive for coronavirus in Stockholm, new figures show.

A total of 923 people tested positive for coronavirus in the Stockholm region last week, an increase compared to the week before when health authorities recorded 537 new confirmed cases of the infection.

“We are seriously concerned about the increased spread of infection in the Stockholm region right now,” Stockholm healthcare director Björn Eriksson told a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

“The figures indicate that the spread of infection has increased and this in turn indicates that far too many have stopped following the Swedish Public Health Agency's recommendations,” he said.

A total of 23,656 tests were analysed in Stockholm last week, and out of those 4.1 percent were positive (that's 963 positive tests, which is not identical to the number of people who tested positive, because they include both people who live on the island of Gotland as well as some who may have taken several tests).

It's an increase from 2.2 percent out of 27,062 tests analysed the week before.


Stockholm healthcare chief Björn Eriksson in front of a sign that says “wash your hands for someone you love”. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

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Twenty-four Covid-19 patients are currently being treated in Stockholm hospitals, including five in intensive care, 13 in other hospitals and six in geriatric care, according to regional healthcare data.

The increase in infections has not yet led to more seriously ill patients in hospitals, but health authorities are concerned that it could be the start of a renewed second wave of coronavirus.

Senior physician Johan Bratt said that Stockholm hospitals were better equipped to face a rise in more seriously ill Covid-19 patients compared to in April, when as many as 1,100 people were receiving hospital treatment at the same time at the peak of the outbreak in the Swedish capital.

“There's greater knowledge when it comes to spread of infection, symptoms and treatment. And the healthcare sector is prepared to scale up again,” Bratt told the press conference.

Eriksson urged everyone to keep following coronavirus guidelines, which include working from home if possible, and socially distancing by keeping a two-metre distance to other people (the Swedish Public Health Agency has said “at least an arm's length”, but regional healthcare services recommend two metres).

“I wish that everyone would now sit down, at home, at fika tables or in the kitchen when you get home, and think for 15 minutes about 'what can we do to curb the spread of infection',” he said.

“This is a serious illness that can be terrible if you get a serious version. We should make sure that we all do what we can to prevent more people from getting ill.”

A total of 92,466 people have tested positive in Sweden since the start of the outbreak. Last week, 129,000 tests were carried out, out of which 2.4 percent were positive, the Public Health Agency's Karin Tegmark Wisell told the health authorities' bi-weekly press conference today. That's an increase from 1.6 percent the previous week.

There are still regional variations. You can follow the outbreak in your own region or municipality here.


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