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Sweden to send mass text to population on Christmas Covid rules

Sweden's public health agency is to send out text messages to every mobile phone number in the country hoping to drum home recommendations designed to prevent an explosion of infection over Christmas and the New Year.

Sweden to send mass text to population on Christmas Covid rules
Morgan Olofsson, communications chief for MSB, Home Minister Mikael Damberg and Digital Minister Anders Ygeman announce the texts at a press conference on Friday. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT
“We are now in a difficult situation ahead of Christmas and New Year and we want to give the Swedish people yet another reminder,” Sweden's home minister Mikael Damberg said at a press conference announcing the mass text on Friday morning. 
 
Sweden's Public Health Agency last Tuesday issued new guidelines which come into force on Monday December 14th, requesting that people in Sweden limit their socialising over the festive period if possible to a bubble of eight people, avoid new contacts, meet outside as much as possible, and avoid public transport as much as possible.
 
 
The mass text messaging is being done together with Sweden's four biggest telecoms operators, Telia, Tele2, Telenor and Tre. According to the TT newswire, there are about 22 million mobile phone contracts in the country of 10 million people. 
 
“They have come forward voluntarily to help carry this out practically. They are performing an important service to reduce the spread of infection in Sweden,” said digitalisation minister Anders Ygeman. 
 
The text in the SMS, in Swedish, will read: “Information from the authorities: Follow the new tighter advice in order to stop the spread of infection. Read more on the Krisinformation website.” 
 
It will not itself mention any of the actual recommendations for Christmas, instead enjoining recipients to go online and check up on what they are. 
 
At the press Damberg reiterated that, although there are no fines or other sanctions for not following the recommendations, they should not be seen as voluntary.  
 
“The recommendations from the agencies aren't some kind of tips for the public — they should be followed,” he said. 
 
At the press conference Morgan Olofsson, the crisis preparedness agency's communication chief, said that the text messages “obviously and unfortunately” could only be sent out in Swedish and encouraged Swedes with an immigrant background and good Swedish language skills to translate the message for those who understand Swedish less well.  
 
“We think this way — if all of you who read this message, if you help, in your language to the extent that you can, to  spread the message further, then everyone will understand how serious the situation is, and that way we can save lives,” he said. 
 
The Krisinformation website itself contains links to information about the coronavirus in Sweden in other languages, which you can find here. The Local has also published a Q&A about what the rules mean in English.

 

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COVID-19

New Covid-19 wave in Sweden ‘to peak at end of September’

Sweden's Public Health Agency has warned of a new autumn wave of Covid-19 which it expects to peak at the end of September.

New Covid-19 wave in Sweden 'to peak at end of September'

According to both of the two new scenarios published by the agency on Monday, infection rates are set to rise steadily over the next month, something the agency said was due to a falling immunity in the population and greater contact between people as they return to schools and workplaces after the summer. 

“It is difficult to say how high the peak will be, but it is unlikely that it will reach the same levels as in January and February,” the agency’s unit chief Sara Byfors said in a press release. “The most important thing is that people in risk groups and those who are 65 years old and above get vaccinated with a booster dose in the autumn to reduce the risk of serious illness and death.” 

Under Scenario 0, the amount of contact between people stays at current levels, leading to a peak in reported Covid-19 cases at around 5,000 a day. In Scenario 1, contact between people increases by about 10 percent from the middle of August, leading to a higher peak of about 7,000 reported cases a day. 

The agency said that employers should be prepared for many staff to be off sick simultaneously at points over the next month, but said in its release that it did not judge the situation to be sufficiently serious to require either it or the government to impose additional infection control measures. 

It was important, however, it said, that those managing health and elderly care continued to test those with symptoms and to track the chain of infections, that people go and get the booster doses when they are supposed to have under the vaccination programme, and that those who have symptoms of Covid-19 stay home. 

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