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

Find out what's going on in Sweden today with The Local's short round-up of the news in less than five minutes.

Today in Sweden: A round-up of the latest news on Friday
Malmö's 'Turning Torso' building surrounded by sea smoke recently. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Three of Sweden's political parties now want a face mask recommendation

Sweden's Centre Party, which is politically centre-right, has joined the far-right Sweden Democrats and right-of-centre Christian Democrats in calling for face masks to be recommended in Sweden. In a statement, the party said face masks should be recommended in parts of the country with a high rate of infection, to be worn in environments where social distancing is not possible.

The centre-left government has largely taken the advice of the Public Health Agency, not connected to any political party, in deciding which recommendations to introduce. The agency has said that it does not believe face masks would be a useful additional measure in Sweden, saying it is more important to reduce congestion on for example public transport than to recommend masks be worn when that is not possible. 

Most people in Sweden should be avoiding non-essential use of public transport under current recommendations, but this is not legally enforced. Also today, Sveriges Radio reports that one Swedish bus company is mandating face masks on its routes between Stockholm and Härjedalen or Dalarna. This goes a step further than a previous effort by public transport operator Skånetrafiken in southern Sweden which gave out thousands of face masks to passengers for free but did not mandate them.

In its statement, the Centre Party referred to several studies suggesting masks are effective in reducing infection, including one in the German city of Jena.

Swedish vocabulary: congestion/crowding – trängsel

Photo: Erik Simander/TT


20 of Sweden's 21 regions expect the Covid-19 situation to get worse

20 out of Sweden's 21 administrative regions, which are responsible for managing healthcare, have reported that they expect the situation to deteriorate further when it comes to Covid-19 and the strain on healthcare in their region, the National Board of Health and Welfare said on Thursday.

Part of the reason is increasing staff absence in healthcare due to seasonal illnesses as well as the high spread of the virus in society. 

Swedish vocabulary: to deteriorate – försämras

Skåne reintroduces hospital visiting ban and recommends early school holiday

The southwestern region of Skåne has announced several new measures in response to the rising spread of infection in the area.

This means that in hospitals, all staff must wear face masks when in close contact with any patient, and there is a ban on visits — though exceptions will be allowed for end-of-life visits or other special situations.

And the infection control unit has recommended that schools end the autumn term on December 18th rather than the following week, if possible. “This is to reduce the risk of students and teachers becoming infected at school and then falling ill during the Christmas holidays. If you do not have the opportunity to end the term on December 18th, the recommendation is instead to have distance learning during the last days before the holiday,” the statement said.

Swedish vocabulary: Christmas holiday – jullov

A sign in Helsingborg reminds residents of the sharper restrictions in place and says 'only together can we break the chain of infection'. Photo: Johan Nilsson / TT

Several occupational groups want to be prioritised when Sweden begins mass vaccination

Several unions are calling for their members to be given priority when vaccination of the public begins in Sweden. Unions representing teachers and bus drivers have asked for members of these professions, which cannot be carried out without close contact with others, to be vaccinated early.

“Bus drivers are a socially important group. They are a group that is exposed to infection and have a job that makes the whole of Sweden work. They make sure that people can get to their jobs at nursing homes, hospitals and schools,” said Tobias Baudin, chairperson of the Kommunal union.

He added that the union has also been contacted by many caretakers, cleaners and service staff in hospitals, who clean the facilities and transport patients between different departments.

Sweden has not yet announced in what order the public will be vaccinated after the first three priority groups (residents of elderly care homes and those receiving at-home care; healthcare and care workers who have close contact with vulnerable people; those who shared a household with vulnerable people) which include around 600,000 members of the population. But the country has said it expects all adults over-18 to receive the opportunity to be vaccinated in the first half of 2021.

Swedish vocabulary: to vaccinate – vaccinera

Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Pool via AP/TT

Swedish taxi drivers step up to help increase Covid-19 testing capacity

Swedish taxi driver Jotta Nikopoulou has found new work during the Covid-19 pandemic, by delivering tests to the sick. As her usual work dried up while the city struggled to contain the virus, she is one of over 1,000 taxi drivers who deliver around 25,000 tests a week in the Stockholm region — around half of all tests in the city.

The 45-year-old now reports daily to a station on Stockholm's outskirts where she collects a box containing a PCR test which she delivers to the door of someone with symptoms, returning 15 minutes later to collect it for processing.

Swedish vocabulary: taxi driver – taxichaufför

Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP

Swedish emissions fell by 10 percent in 2020 due to pandemic

Sweden's carbon dioxide emissions have decreased by 10 percent throughout 2020 as a result of the corona pandemic, according to calculations from the Global Carbon Project.

The research shows that Swedish emissions fell by about 25 percent in April, and across the whole year the fall was 10 percent. Globally, the drop was seven percent, due to a sharp fall in road transport and air travel, and across the EU it was around 11 percent. However, daily emissions have now almost returned to levels equivalent to last year.

Swedish vocabulary: carbon dioxide – koldioxid

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