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

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards - [email protected]
Today in Sweden: A round-up of the latest news on Friday
A screen showing the Public Health Agency's press conference on Thursday. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/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.


Who exactly is guaranteed a Covid-19 vaccine in Sweden?

Swedes resident overseas risk falling between the cracks during Sweden's vaccine programme, as people not resident in Sweden are not guaranteed to receive a dose here.

"Whether a Swede resident abroad is covered by the recommendation for a free vaccination against Covid-19 or not depends on, among other things, country of residence, their occupation or whether they are students," Emma Spak, from the healthcare department at SKR, the umbrella association for Sweden's municipalities and regions, told Swedish Radio Ekot.

For Swedish citizens resident in Europe, it is likely they would be given the vaccine for free because the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitles holders to medical care at the same level as citizens in any EU country.

The Local has been looking into exactly what applies to foreigners resident in Sweden.

Again, holders of an EHIC are entitled to healthcare on the same basis as Swedish citizens, and the same applies to people with a Swedish personnummer or samordningsnummer, and people from countries Sweden has special healthcare agreements with, but others currently have to pay.

SKR directed us to Sweden's Communicable Diseases Act, which states that medical care related to certain infectious diseases should be offered free even to foreign citizens who usually pay for healthcare, and said the Covid-19 vaccine was considered to fall into this category and that it would recommend that the regions offer vaccines for free. Ultimately it is the 21 individual regions who decide on fees for healthcare. 

Swedish vocabulary: healthcare – vård

Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT


Most secondary schools are offering distance learning

The majority of Sweden's secondary schools (högstadieskolor, generally for students aged 13-15) are offering distance learning, a new survey from the National Agency for Education shows.

This is optional for schools since November, but the survey showed that two thirds of huvudmännen (the term for people in charge of the school, which is either the municipality for state schools or the head of a school board in independent schools) had taken advantage of the possibility to switch partially or wholly to distance learning. Of those, 42 percent said all teaching was taking place online while 27 percent said most teaching was online.

Swedish vocabulary: remote learning – distansundervisning

A secondary school class in normal times. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Sweden's coronavirus cases show signs of falling, but numbers still high

The number of reported cases of coronavirus appears to be slowly falling, authorities said at their biweekly press conference on Thursday.

The 14-day case notification rate (number of cases reported per 100,000 residents over the past 14 days) reached 588, down from over 800 before Christmas. But that's still high when looking at other countries; the latest ECDC data shows the equivalent figure in France was 381, in Italy 374, in Finland 62, and in Denmark 365 for example.

"We have a lower number of cases reported in week two compared to week one. We have a reduction at the national level. However, this should be seen in the light of the development many other countries in Europe have had, where they first saw a decline and then a new upswing," warned the Public Health Agency's Karin Tegmark Wisell.

Swedish vocabulary: lower – lägre


Joe Biden's new coronavirus advisor criticised Swedish strategy

The US President has nominated healthcare advisor Andy Slavitt to his coronavirus response team, who has drawn attention in Sweden for his harshly critical comments about the Swedish strategy.

In a Tweet in early December, Slavitt, who is a proponent of using shutdowns to curb the spread of the virus, said that Sweden's state epidemiologist "masterminded the 'just ignore it' strategy in Sweden".

It follows weeks of debate between political parties and authorities about what exactly the Swedish strategy was, with the government and Public Health Agency strongly denying that they deliberately allowed the disease to spread through society.

The Swedish strategy was always defined as aiming to protect the most vulnerable and reducing the spread of infection through all reasonable measures, such as urging people to work from home and limiting the numbers allowed to gather at events, but the country has opted against some measures taken in many countries including recommending face masks at all times, closing non-essential businesses or requiring all travellers from overseas to quarantine.


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