Sweden records deadliest November in a century

Sweden registered more deaths last month than in any other November in more than 100 years, Sweden's national statistics agency has reported.

Sweden records deadliest November in a century
A grave in Ulriksdal, Stockholm. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT
According to Statistics Sweden, the country returned to excess mortality in November, meaning that more deaths from all causes were recorded than the historical average for the month over the past five years.

In total, 8,088 deaths were registered, which is 10 percent more than the five-year average of 7,383.
“This is the highest number of deaths recorded in November since 1918, which is the year the Spanish flu broke out,” Tomas Johansson, a demographer at SCB, said. 
The highest death toll came on November 15th, when 292 people died. But more deaths were recorded every single day between November 12th and November 27th than on any November day since 2015. 
Excess mortality in the second wave has so far nonetheless remained below that seen in the spring between March 29th and May 1st, when at least 300 people died each day. 
“Since the middle of the year, the number of deaths has lain at a normal level for the period, but in November the number of deaths started to rise significantly,” Johansson said. 
Between July and September, mortality in Sweden was in fact slightly below average, 12 percent below average for women, and two percent below average for men.
The November figures seems less alarming when adjusted for the growing size of the Swedish population.
On a per capita basis, November was only the deadliest in a decade, with 77.9 people dying per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to 79.2 in November, 2010. 
Johansson said that last month's excess mortality had been confined to the over-65s, with lower-than-average mortality recorded for people of 64 and under. 
Excess mortality was recorded this November in every region in Sweden except Norrbotten, Västernorrland and Värmland 
Only two regions, Skåne and Kronoberg, registered higher excess mortality in November than during the spring months.  

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Covid deaths in Sweden ‘set to rise in coming weeks’

The Public Health Agency of Sweden has warned that the number of weekly Covid deaths is set to rise, after the number of people testing positive for the virus rose for the sixth week running.

Covid deaths in Sweden 'set to rise in coming weeks'

According to the agency, an average of 27 people have died with or from the virus a week over the past three weeks. 

“According to our analyses, the number who died in week 27 (July 4th-July 11th), is more than died in week 26 and we expect this to continue to grow,” the agency wrote in a report issued on Thursday. 

In the week ending July 17th (week 28), 4,700 new cases of Covid-19 were registered, a 22 percent rise on the previous week. 

“We are seeing rising infection levels of Covid-19 which means that there will be more people admitted to hospital, and even more who die with Covid-19,”  said Anneli Carlander, a unit chief at the agency. “The levels we are seeing now are higher than they were last summer, but we haven’t reached the same level we saw last winter when omicron was spreading for the first time.” 

While 27 deaths a week with for from Covid-19 is a rise on the low levels seen this spring, it is well below the peak death rate Sweden saw in April 2020, when more than 100 people were dying a day. 

The number of Covid deaths recorded each week this summer. Source. Public Health Agency of Sweden
A graph of Covid deaths per day since the start of the pandemic shows that the current death rate, while alarming, remains low. Photo: Public Health Agency of Sweden

Carlander said that cases were rising among those in sheltered accommodation for the elderly, and also elderly people given support in their own homes, groups which are recommended to get tested for the virus if they display symptoms. The infection rate among those given support in their homes has risen 40 percent on last week. 

This week there were also 12 new patients admitted to intensive care units with Covid-19 in Sweden’s hospitals.  

The increase has come due to the new BA.5 variant of omicron, which is better able to infect people who have been vaccinated or already fallen ill with Covid-19. Vaccination or a past infection does, however, give protection against serious illness and death.