Today in Sweden: A round-up of the latest news on Wednesday

Today in Sweden: A round-up of the latest news on Wednesday
Swedish journalists at a government press conference on Tuesday. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT
Much of the world's attention is focused on the US presidential election today, but you can still find out what's going on in Sweden with The Local's short round-up of the news in less than five minutes.

Swedish helplines flooded with corona calls

Sweden's national information helpline 113 13 received 3,000 calls on Monday, and 14,000 calls over the whole of last week. That compares to an average of 30 daily calls that it received in 2019, and as you've probably guessed, many questions relate to the pandemic, such as how to get tested, reports the TT news agency.

Officials are urging people to first look for the information they need on the website – if they are able to – and try to make sure that they call the right number. But don't refrain from seeking help just to avoid flooding helpline services. If you need healthcare, you should call 1177, and if you have general questions, you should call 113 13.

Always call 112 for urgent life-threatening conditions.

You can find more information about what phone numbers and websites you need to keep informed about the coronavirus in Sweden here (we're still updating this article which was published in March, so some of the information may no longer be up-to-date, but the key phone numbers are accurate).

File photo of a man speaking on the phone. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

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See also on The Local:

Proposals: Earlier grades in Swedish schools

Swedish schools should be able to award grades to pupils from fourth year (ages 10-11) onwards, according to a new proposal by the Social Democrat-Green government based on a deal with its liberal centre-right allies in parliament, the Centre and Liberals.

But only if they want to. It will be up to each principal to make a decision for their school. Students are currently graded from sixth year (12-13) in Sweden.

If voted through, the new rules would come into effect on April 1st.

File photo of a student in a Swedish classroom. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

How does Sweden feel about the US election?

At the time of writing, the outcome of the US election is unclear as candidates Joe Biden and Donald Trump remain neck-to-neck in the polls. But yesterday Swedish politicians expressed their hopes for the election, with Centre Party leader Annie Lööf writing on Instagram that she was “keeping [her] fingers crossed that Joe Biden wins”.

Liberal leader Nyamko Sabuni told the Expressen tabloid that she, too, preferred a Democrat in the White House, and Left leader Nooshi Dadgostar said Biden was the better of the two candidates although not left-wing enough.

Prime Minister Stefan Löfven wrote on Facebook that his Social Democrats had more in common with the Democrats than the Republicans, but that it was “up to the American people to decide the election, without outside interference”.

Ulf Kristersson of the conservative Moderates wrote on Instagram that he would have preferred late Republican President Ronald Reagan, but picked Biden over Trump. Neither Christian Democrat leader Ebba Busch nor Isabella Lövin of the Green Party named a specific candidate, and Jimmie Åkesson of the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats has previously said he prefers the Republicans to the Democrats.

If it were up to voters in Sweden, Biden would win in a landslide. A survey by pollsters Novus in September found that 79 percent of people in Sweden would have cast their vote for Biden, compared to only nine percent who said they would have voted for Trump.

Sweden rolls out tighter coronavirus measures in another three regions

As The Local reported when it happened, Halland, Jönköping and Örebro are now covered by local rules, in addition to Stockholm, Uppsala, Skåne, Västra Götaland and Östergötland. That's eight of 21 regions, but they are some of the most populous regions so this means seven out of ten people are now affected by tighter recommendations.

The exact measures vary depending on where you live, and everyone in Sweden even if you don't live in these regions is expected to follow national health and safety rules.

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven announcing new coronavirus measures. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Sweden's new rule of eight for restaurants

No more than eight people per group will be allowed in Swedish restaurants, according to a new rule introduced this week. Restaurants are already under special measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus, including a minimum one metre between groups.

The Local asked state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell to clarify whether regional recommendations to avoid indoor environments applies to restaurants.

“Restaurants are regulated according to other laws and regulations, that's why it's not repeated [in regional recommendations]. And also for most of the regions we have talked to, they don't really see in their contact tracing that restaurants are a major cause of spread of the disease and that's why we have not repeated the advice here. There is lots of advice on how to avoid the spread in restaurants,” he said.

Hand disinfectant in a Stockholm bar. Photo: Helena Landstedt/TT

How do Sweden's coronavirus scenarios hold up?

Swedish newspaper DN has compared three scenarios that the Public Health Agency presented in July for how the coronavirus could develop in Sweden to what actually happened. It's important to note that the agency said at the time that the scenarios were not meant to be interpreted as a prognosis, but would be used to facilitate planning for Swedish authorities in their future work – but it still makes for interesting comparison.

The three scenarios were Scenario 0, which would see the rate of infection remain at a relatively low level; Scenario 1, uneven spread and cluster outbreaks; and Scenario 2, a steady increase in all 21 regions.

In terms of confirmed coronavirus cases, the situation is currently worse than any of the scenarios (although Sweden was also testing far fewer people when the scenarios were published back in July). Scenario 1 is the closest of the three, and matched reality at the start of September, writes DN.

So far, the vast majority of coronavirus infections have led to mild symptoms, but the number of serious cases is on the increase. In the last few days, the number of patients in intensive care has exceeded Scenario 0, but remains well below Scenario 1 and 2. Deaths still remain lower than all three scenarios.

A total of 134,532 people have tested positive in Sweden, with 5,969 fatalities and 2,750 admissions to intensive care, according to the Public Health Agency's latest data.

Thank you for the feedback we've received so far on our new Monday-Friday daily round-up of the news in Sweden. The verdict seems to be that members appreciate it, so we'll continue the round-up for now. If you have any other thoughts or questions, you are always welcome to email [email protected].

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