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

Today in Sweden: A round-up of the latest news on Monday
Due to the risk of infection in a traditional Lucia parade, this Swedish tradition moved to the water outside the Stockholm Royal Palace this weekend. Photo: Pontus Lundahl / TT
Find out what's going on in Sweden today with The Local's short round-up of the news in less than five minutes.

Sweden's new national coronavirus recommendations come into force today

The key thing to be aware of today is the change to coronavirus recommendations in Sweden. Up until now, regional measures have been in place, with slight variations depending on where you are in the country.

From December 14th, new national recommendations apply. Some of the key points are that everyone should limit their socialising to a small number of close friends and family, for example the people you live with or a few close friends if you live alone, and to avoid public transport as much as possible. We have answered your questions about the new measures here.

Many people with Swedish mobile phone contracts will get a text message from the government reminding them of these recommendations. The message will be in Swedish, containing no links and with the sender listed as 'Fohm och MSB' (the Swedish Public Health Agency and Civil Contingencies Agency). 

Swedish vocabulary: to socialise – umgås

People in Stockholm walk past a sign saying 'a Christmas for each other'. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT


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See also on The Local:

What's going on with the weather this week?

Last week, we found out that Stockholm had not seen a single hour of sunlight all month and most of the rest of the country hadn't fared much better (Lund saw one hour and Gothenburg two). So what's in store this week?

According to meteorological agency SMHI, mostly more cloud and temperatures around freezing — warmer than the average for this time of year, with little chance of significant change between now and Christmas.

Some good news: the earliest sunset of the year happens on Tuesday (even though it isn't winter solstice yet, because the sunrises will keep getting later for a bit longer). That means we should soon see more daylight in the afternoons.

Swedish vocabulary: sunset – solnedgång

Benefit for first day of sick leave to remain into 2021

Earlier this year, the government temporarily scrapped the so-called 'waiting day' or unpaid first day of sick leave, meaning all  workers would receive sickness benefits from the moment they have to be absent from work due to illness.

The change, due to the coronavirus, has now been extended until the end of April 2021, as a way of encouraging all workers to stay at home if they have the slightest symptoms of the virus without needing to worry about losing out financially. It applies for any illness.

The TT newswire asked Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson if the government would consider scrapping the waiting day permanently (something The Local's readers were in favour of when we carried out a non-scientific poll), to which she replied: “That is a major issue that would require an investigation; now we are in a completely different situation. It is reasonable that an insurance policy has a certain deductible.”

Swedish vocabulary: deduction for the first day of sick leave – karensavdrag

Photo: Isabell Höjman/TT

All regions increase intensive care capacity

All of Sweden's 21 regions are increasing their number of available places for intensive care, so that even those under less pressure can care for patients to be flown from overstretched regions.

Last week, less than 17 percent of ICU capacity was available nationally, less than the minimum target of 20 percent. During the first peak of the virus in spring, total ICU capacity was almost at 1,200 while now it is around 680.

Stockholm's health authorities have also made a new call for help, asking for private healthcare companies to free up staff to help solve a severe shortage in intensive care places. 

“Around a third of healthcare in Stockholm is carried out in the private sector. It makes sense for them also to take responsibility,” said Björn Eriksson, the regional head of healthcare. The news came after Astrid Lindgren's children's hospital in the capital said it was cancelling some non-urgent operations because 120 of its medical staff had been sent 'on loan' to Karolinska University Hospital to support Covid care. 

Swedish vocabulary: to take responsibility – ta ansvar

Intensive care nurses last month at Gothenburg's Östra Sjukhuset hospital. Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall /TT

Coronavirus outbreak in Malmö infection clinic

At Malmö's infection clinic, a large outbreak of coronavirus meant that almost half of its nurses and doctors tested positive for the virus.

A total of 33-35 nurses and assistant nurses (out of 75-80 total) as well as 11 doctors (out of 30 total) tested positive, and some of the staff worked while infected but symptom-free. 

Skåne has been hit harder by the second wave of the virus, with around three times as many people receiving care in hospital now for Covid-19 than in spring. The region has now begun to use so-called rapid or antigen tests for staff, which provide an initial test result within 15 minutes.

“It will be a game-changer when you can test, send home and thus break the chain,” infection physician Johan Tham told Dagens Nyheter, which was first to report the story. 

Swedish vocabulary: chain – kedja

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