Sweden discovers 250 cases of new coronavirus variant

Sweden discovers 250 cases of new coronavirus variant
The Public Health Agency's expert Sara Byfors at the press conference on Tuesday. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT
The variant of the coronavirus first reported in the UK has seen an increased spread in Sweden, said the Public Health Agency on Tuesday.

The agency announced that a new method of randomised testing had shown that the new variant of coronavirus first discovered in the UK seemed to have become more prevalent.

Out of 2,220 positive Covid-19 tests screened, the UK variant had been discovered in 250 samples, 11 percent.

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The randomised testing was only carried out in four regions – Västra Götaland, Skåne, Gävleborg och Västmanland – and the data is so far only preliminary. Sequencing is also being carried out to confirm the results.

The Public Health Agency said it was too early to draw any conclusions, but that the results indicated an increased spread of the new variant, which is believed to be more infectious but not otherwise more serious.

In a proposal submitted to the government on Friday, the Public Health Agency requested that the justice ministry order all foreign travellers to Sweden, born in 2004 or earlier, to show a negative Covid-19 test that's less than 48 hours old and recommended that all travellers get tested and self-quarantine for a week.

“The situation is changing extremely fast around the world and different virus variants may be found in more countries than those we know of. Therefore, the Public Health Agency believes it is important to get the new restrictions in place,” said Public Health Agency director-general Johan Carlson in a statement at the time.

The agency also recommends that everyone arriving in Sweden from any country in the world stay at home and avoid contacts for seven days – and get a second test on day five, in addition to the first test that they got before arriving in or departing for Sweden. The rest of their household is also urged to stay at home during this time.

Other news from Sweden's biweekly coronavirus press conference:

  • The number of Covid-19 patients in need of hospital care continues to fall. A total of 1,752 are currently being treated in hospital, a decrease by 380 patients compared to last week. Fourteen percent are in intensive care, said the National Board of Health and Welfare's deputy crisis manager Taha Alexandersson.
  • By February 2nd, 256,978 people in Sweden had been given at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine (3.13 percent of the adult population) and 28,279 had received two doses.
  • A further 224 deaths have been reported, bringing Sweden's coronavirus death toll to 11,815. A total of 576,606 cases of the virus have been confirmed so far, and 4,819 people have received intensive care treatment over the course of the pandemic.
  • Over the past two weeks, the number of new cases reported per 100,000 residents was 420, a fall from 479 per 100,000 one week ago. There are regional variations, but in Skåne, which a few weeks ago had an incidence rate of over 1,000, the figure was down to 657 per 100,000 residents. In Västra Götaland the figure was 493 and in Stockholm 300.

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