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

Find out what's going on in Sweden today with The Local's short round-up of the news in less than five minutes.

Today in Sweden: A round-up of the latest news on Thursday
People skate and play ice hockey on the frozen Öresund strait. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Delayed results from tests for new Covid-19 variants 

More than half of Sweden's regions believe they have a spread of the newer variants of coronavirus, according to a survey by Sveriges Radio. But the analyses can only be done at certain laboratories and getting the results take time, making it hard for regions to know how widespread the new variant is.

“We estimate we will maybe get answers on Friday or next Monday, but these are tests we got together from the previous week, so it's already a week later,” Karin Jones, head of laboratory medicine in Norrbotten, told the radio.

The Public Health Agency has told regions to assume that they have a spread of the new variant, thought to be more contagious, and to ensure a high level of compliance with the measures in place, such as working from home if possible and limiting contacts to a small number.

Swedish vocabulary: compliance – följsamhet

Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Public Health Agency criticises pubs for letting guests stay after 8pm

Pubs, bars and restaurants are forbidden from selling alcohol after 8pm in an effort to curb the spread of infection, and both the Public Health Agency and government have said this means the venues should close no more than 30 minutes later.

These businesses are allowed to reopen later to serve food and non-alcoholic drinks, but the agency has said this should happen no earlier than an hour later, and that the venue should be completely closed in between. But in several municipalities, pubs and restaurants have been allowing guests to stay on the premises after they stopped serving alcohol until the final closing time.

The Public Health Agency has asked the government to amend its alcohol law so that sales of food for takeaway or home delivery are exempted from the requirement to close at 8pm, in an attempt to discourage the businesses from allowing customers to remain on the premises.

Swedish vocabulary: pubs – krogar

Photo: Amir Nabizadeh/TT

Swedish regions hit by delayed vaccine deliveries

More than 300,000 people in Sweden have received the first dose of the coronavirus so far, 3.76 percent of the population, including three out of four residents in care homes for the elderly, but the second phase — including vaccinating all adults over 65 — will take longer than expected.

Sweden has ordered vaccine from several companies, but Moderna will not deliver its doses that were to arrive this week for another two weeks, and by then only half as much as expected, said the Public Health Agency. The doses will get to Sweden eventually, but later than expected.

Speaking to Dagens Nyheter, state epidemiologist said authorities still believed it was possible to reach the goal of offering the vaccine to all adults by Midsummer, “but every time [the schedule changes], it gets harder”.

Swedish vocabulary: delivery – leverans

Skåne regional director Alf Jönsson holding empty vaccine vials. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Central bank: Repo rate likely to remain at zero until 2024

The Swedish economy has withstood the second wave of the pandemic better than the first, said the country's Central Bank as it released its new forecast for the interest rate.

It said that the crisis meant that it would likely take until 2023 before the Swedish inflation rate permanently reaches the bank's target of two percent, and predicted that the repo rate would remain at zero until 2024.

Swedish vocabulary: Central Bank – Riksbank

Photo: Izabelle Nordfjell/TT

Sweden and Finland to work together more closely on defence

Sweden and Finland will co-operate more closely across civil defence, crisis preparedness and rescue services, after the Interior Minister Mikael Damberg signed an agreement on Wednesday with his Finnish counterpart.

Signing the declaration of intent means the countries will now develop proposals for cross-border projects, which might include providing support in the event of crises such as forest fires, or for example sharing experience of contingency stocks of food and other items. 

Swedish vocabulary: defence – försvar

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