Coronavirus warning as new infections increase rapidly in southern Sweden

Coronavirus warning as new infections increase rapidly in southern Sweden
Skåne regional director Alf Jönsson. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
Sweden's southernmost region Skåne, which was comparatively less affected by the first wave of coronavirus than other populous regions back in spring, is now seeing a fast infection spread.

Last week, 2,200 people tested positive for coronavirus in Skåne, 900 more than the week before, and the number of weekly cases is currently increasing fast.

“In just a couple of week it has trebled,” the region's acting infectious disease doctor Mattias Waldeck told a press conference on Wednesday morning.

A total of 11,138 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Skåne to date, according to the region's data. Previously the spread was dominated by the 20-30 age group, but it is now spreading among older age groups.

“It's a sign of increased community spread of Covid-19. We also have an increase in the number of cases in elderly care homes,” said Waldeck.

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Five Covid-19 patients are receiving intensive care treatment in Skåne, and 68 are in hospital. The latter figure has more than doubled since October 24th, when there were 30 Covid-19 patients in hospital, but the former has remained steady in the past week.

Skåne regional director Alf Jönsson urged everyone to follow the local coronavirus rules, and vowed to boost testing and contact tracing in the region.

“Each and everyone of us has to ask the question: Do I have to go inside this shop, right now, today? Do I have to meet my colleagues at afterwork [the 'Swedish' word for drinks after work], at work, tonight? Do I have to go to that party I've been invited to on Saturday? Do I have to?” he asked rhetorically.

These are the local recommendations in Skåne:

  • Avoid public transport or other public means of transportation.

  • Refrain from being in indoor environments such as shops, shopping centres, museums, libraries, swimming pools and gyms, with the exception of necessary visits to grocery stores or pharmacies.

  • Refrain from attending, for example, meetings, concerts, performances, sports training, matches and competitions. This does not apply to sports training for children born 2005 or later. The Public Health Agency writes on its website that Skåne's infectious disease doctor underlines that the key thing is to avoid indoor sports training, and matches that attract participants from other regions.

  • If possible avoid physical contact with people other than those you live with.

  • Businesses, organisations, and workplaces should also take measures to ensure that visitors or employees are able to follow the local coronavirus recommendations. This could include limiting the number of visitors and making sure staff can work from home.

Eight out of Sweden's 21 regions, including Skåne, have to date introduced similar specific rules for their regions. The restrictions are not generally legally binding, so there are no fines for violating them, but are at the same time not considered optional. Britte Bråstad, chief legal officer for the Public Health Agency, described the measures – allmänna råd or 'general recommendations' – as “something in between regulations and recommendations” in an interview with The Local in October. “You could say it's a 'strong recommendation',” she said at the time.

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