It comes after Covid-19 cases in the region almost doubled within a week, including a growing number of cases of a new variant, B117, thought to be more contagious.
“The situation is very serious. We have to have fewer contacts,” the region's infectious disease physician Stephan Stenmark said at a briefing announcing the new measures.
As well as asking people to avoid unnecessary travel, the recommendations state that people who have to travel (for example to medical appointments or to work that cannot be done from home) should do it in a way that allows you to avoid making new contacts as much as possible.
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If you work at a school or business with an ongoing Covid-19 outbreak in the region, you are also recommended to avoid being “out in society”, which means avoiding going to shops, cafes, bars and other places where you might come into contact with other people. The same applies to people who live with someone whose school or workplace has an active outbreak, and the recommendation applies even if you are symptom-free.
“Purchases of food and necessary medicines can be carried out, but in the first instance you should ask someone for help with this,” said Stenmark.
The sharp rise in cases was linked to outbreaks at two schools in the town of Lycksele, and among employees of the Northvolt battery manufacturer in Skellefteå. The recommendation to avoid being in public currently applies to people linked to Northvolt, and the Västerbotten region will notify any other workplaces affected by future outbreaks if their staff should also follow these measures.
Meanwhile, schools for children aged over 13 (högstadiet and gymnasiet) have been asked by the region to switch to distance learning as soon as possible and no later than February 15th, with exceptions allowed for national exams and certain groups of vulnerable students.
To begin with, these recommendations are in place until at least February 28th.
“All Västerbotten residents must contribute. The situation is very serious at the moment and everyone must change their behaviour so that we can stop the spread of infection and protect those who are at risk of becoming the most seriously ill,” the region said in a statement.