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

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

Signs at a restaurant in a Stockholm shopping centre, urging people to keep a distance for coronavirus reasons
Signs at a restaurant in a Stockholm shopping centre, urging people to keep a distance. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

Migration Agency needs another two years to clear backlog

Sweden’s Migration Agency faces a huge backlog of citizenship applications. But in its new budget proposal to the government for 2022-2024 it asks for less money than before, a decrease of around a quarter million kronor, according to the TT news agency.

This is because the Migration Agency is currently being slimmed down as it expect the number of asylum applications to keep dropping since the peak in and around 2015.

But many other applicants still face long waiting times. The agency expects to clear the backlog of asylum and work permit applications this year, and partner permits next year, but not until 2023 for citizenship applications. The current estimated waiting time for citizenship is 38 months, according to the Migration Agency’s website.

Swedish vocabulary: citizenship – medborgarskap

What to do if your colleague tests positive for Covid in Sweden

Sweden’s Public Health Agency has announced changes to its workplace contact tracing guidelines, meaning that more close contacts of infected staff members will be tested.

Under the updated recommendations, people who have had close contact with a colleague who tests positive for the coronavirus should be tested even if they themselves do not have symptoms. Close contacts are defined as anyone who spent more than 15 minutes over the course of a day (not necessarily 15 consecutive minutes) within two metres’ distance from the person with Covid-19, up to 48 hours before the person with Covid-19 first experienced symptoms.

All close contacts should be tested “quickly on the first day” after they have been identified as a contact, and tested a second time five days later. As before, anyone who does have symptoms is expected to stay at home, get tested and isolate.

Swedish vocabulary: close contact – nära kontakt

Warning of third wave as coronavirus continues to spread in Sweden

Sweden’s coronavirus cases are rapidly increasing, and there is a risk of a third wave that could be more serious than the second wave, despite the ongoing vaccinations.

The number of new coronavirus cases has been on the increase in Sweden for three consecutive weeks now, with a 10 percent increase each week, state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell told the health authorities’ biweekly press conference on Tuesday.

Sweden now has a national incidence rate of 497 positive cases per 100,000 people in the past 14 days, up from 445 a week ago.

Swedish vocabulary: third wave – tredje våg

Swedes suspected of using fake Covid test results

Negative Covid tests are currently required for travel to many countries, and two Swedes were stopped as early as at check-in at Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport.

Airline staff contacted police, and the pair are now suspected of using forged documents of their negative Covid test results, writes the TT news agency. It was not immediately clear exactly how the documents had been forged and to where they were travelling.

Swedish vocabulary: airport – flygplats

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TODAY IN SWEDEN

Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday

New moves towards Nato, Ukrainians to Lund, and a fall in online sales. Find out what's going on in Sweden, with The Local's short roundup.

Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday

Left-wing Aftonbladet newspaper backs Nato membership

The Aftonbladet newspaper, which describes itself as reflecting an “independent Social Democrat” viewpoint, has switched sides on Nato, with the newspaper’s chief political editor Anders Lindberg arguing in an editorial that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine makes membership of the security organisation necessary. 

“Vladimir Putin’s war demonstrates that we need to join Nato to guarantee Sweden’s security,” Lindberg wrote in an article on Wednesday.  

“I have never previously supported Swedish membership of Nato,” he explained. “On the contrary, I have argued that non-alignment, a strong national defence, and a pragmatic foreign and security policy has worked extremely well. It has kept us out of war and promoted our national interests.”  

But he said that Russia’s invasion had created a “security deficit in Northern Europe”. 

“When I read the arguments for continued military non-alignment, I cannot see any answers to the question of how we should compensate for this deficit,” he wrote. 

Swedish Vocab: en underksott – a deficit 

Finnish parliament to hold historic Nato debate 

The Finnish parliament is to hold a historic five-hour debate in parliament on Wednesday afternoon, which if it backs Nato membership, will make Nato membership for Sweden much more likely. 

The key will be the position taken by the Social Democrats, the part led by Prime Minister Sanna Marin, and also of the Centre Party, who say they will back Nato membership if the government as a whole does. 

The debate starts at 1.15pm Swedish time. 

Swedish Vocab: en besked – an indication/statement

‘No evidence riots result of foreign influence operation’

The new Swedish Psychological Defence Agency said on Wednesday that there was no evidence the riots over the weekend were encouraged by overseas powers. 

“At present we do not see any ongoing inappropriate influence operations against Sweden,” said Mikael Östlund, the communications chief at the Swedish Psychological Defence Agency. 

Police on Monday said that ahead of the riots over the Easter weekend, they had seen encouragement coming from overseas social media accounts. 

“We know that they is information about encouragement to commit violence against police officers, which has been orchestrated overseas,” said Jonas Hysing, the police officer leading the response to the riots, on Monday. ¨

Swedish vocab: påverkanskampanj – influence operation 

Lund wants to recruit more Ukrainian students 

Lund University wants to make it easier for students from Ukraine to study in Sweden, and has signed an exchange agreement with the Taras Sjevtjenko University in Kiev, it announced in a press release. There were ten Ukrainians studying in lund before Russia’s invasion, and the university aims for that number to increase and for those who are studying to be offered grants. 

Swedish vocab: att locka – to attract 

Swedish PM: ‘Police right to allow Paludan to burn Koran’
 
Sweden’s Prime Minister, Magdalena Andersson, has said that the police decision to allow Danish far-Right activist Rasmus Paludan to hold
a Koran-burning demonstration was correct under Sweden’s strong freedom of expression laws, and that, equally, those opposed have a right to mount a counter demonstration. 
 
“You have the right to demonstrate against it – but peacefully. What we’ve seen is something totally different, and it seems, as police are saying, that there have also been criminal gangs behind this.” 
 
“It’s important,” she added, “that those responsible are arrested and prosecuted.” 
 
She said the pictures of the riots had been “terrible”. “I have of course had a lot of thoughts about the police officers who were wounded.”
 
Swedish vocab: yttrandefriheten – freedom of expression
 
 
E-commerce falls from pandemic peak in Sweden

Revenues from e-commerce sites in Sweden fell 17 percent in March compared to the same month last year, according to the Swedish Trade Federation, with all the signs being that sales will decline this year compared to 2021.  

“The growth in e-commerce is flattening out, but it’s also a fact that the average purchase level in March 2022 was still 70 percent higher than just before the pandemic. The relatively high revenues from e-commerce are shadowed by the record year we saw in 2021,” said Johan Davidson, the trade body’s chief economist. 

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