British born writer and PhD student Sarah Campbell Ledger said she would need to get creative in finding ways to keep her two children entertained over the winter under the stricter rules, but felt positive about the changes.
“The government and authorities have always said that they would implement further measures if necessary, and they've shown that to be the case. So in terms of Uppsala, I think it's a useful and necessary step – it definitely inspires confidence to hear that [the regional infectious disease doctor] Johan Nöjd has been working and communicating closely with the Public Health Agency, and I have been impressed by the communications with Uppsala residents,” she told The Local.
“One thing I do wonder about more generally is whether a shift towards management at both a local and national scale will lead to mixed messages, but overall I think this is a positive step for Uppsala, and it makes me feel safer,” she added.
The change to Uppsala's recommendations was followed this week by a slight relaxation of some national restrictions.
The special recommendations previously in place for over-70s and risk groups (including avoiding all physical contact outside the household and avoiding public transport) were removed, while the limit on attendees of certain public events was raised from 50 to 300, though individual regions may choose to keep it lower.
On Thursday, Uppsala region's director of healthcare Mikael Köhler opened a press conference rebutting comments made earlier that day by state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell that the situation “may have already started to turn around” in Uppsala.
“We still have a serious situation,” said Köhler. He said the region had had almost 200 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents in the previous 14 days, and that 8 percent of all tests were positive compared to a national average of 3.9 percent. “But what sets us apart in our region is the number of people needing medical care.”
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Under the new rules, all residents of Uppsala region are advised to avoid not only organising or attending parties, but any close contact with people outside their household, defined as spending more than 15 minutes within a 1.5 metre distance of each other.
The decision to issue stricter recommendations around socialising came after contact tracing showed over half of the confirmed cases of coronavirus in Uppsala were likely to have been infected in restaurants, pubs, nightclubs, or at social events with more than six people.
Marcus, a 29-year-old who shares his Uppsala apartment with his partner and one other flatmate, said he was happy to comply with the new rules.
“The Halloween party we had organised has been cancelled, which would have been my first since February, but it doesn't matter because a party isn't more important than being safe. I used to be out drinking every other weekend and take regular holidays. I haven't been abroad this year, even to the UK despite losing my grandad,” he said.
“I'm more annoyed at how people are reacting than the measures themselves. I've seen so many Facebook statuses about how this is the worst year ever,” said Marcus, a 29-year-old “It's not been a very good year but things happen and I feel you should deal with them.”
Alex, a Masters student who has been living in Uppsala for four years, said he had cancelled a dinner party and expected his weekly in-person class to be cancelled, but that otherwise it would not be a big change for him.
“The thing that concerns me the most, and has done from the start, is the lack of sufficient opportunities of testing, which means that when one has symptoms, even mild ones and would prefer getting checked it is not possible to do so. A friend of mine thought he had [the coronavirus], wanted to get tested but then saw that there were no slots available so gave up. After two days without symptoms he returned to going out as usual and still doesn’t know if he has it, had it or not.”
The delays in testing were addressed at a press conference on Thursday, when the region explained that laboratories had been at maximum capacity. Fredrik Settergren, a regional healthcare chief, said he was working with the Public Health Agency and expected capacity to increase from Monday onwards.
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