What’s going on with Sweden’s coronavirus data?

What's going on with Sweden's coronavirus data?
Sweden's Covid-19 database has been shut down for the second time due to security reasons.

The SmiNet database which is used for reporting incidents of infectious diseases including Covid-19 has been temporarily closed, the Public Health Agency said on Monday.

It was closed shortly before 10pm on Sunday, “after indications of a possible security flaw which is now being investigated”, the agency said.

It added that the temporary closure meant that new cases of the virus cannot currently be reported into the national database.

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SmiNet also had to close for two days in late May after attempts to hack it, and after that the Public Health Agency said it took “several actions” to strengthen security in its systems. 

The system counts all cases of Covid-19 that are confirmed by a test and reported into the national network by doctors and laboratories. It means that the new data reported this week cannot be considered totally reliable while the database is closed.

New figures were reported on Tuesday, with the total number of cases since the start of the pandemic reaching 1,084,636, up from 1,083,456 reported on June 11th, but the true number is likely more than that.

Sweden’s data is always delayed during weekends when fewer staff are working. Because of that, Sweden’s figures are considered incomplete on Mondays, and the Public Health Agency only gives official updates to its numbers between Tuesdays and Fridays. Updates are also delayed after public holidays, which meant for example a five-day gap in reporting over the Christmas period.

At the time, the Public Health Agency told The Local they did not believe these standard delays would affect the ability to introduce effective measures at the right time.

“There is a big need for all the people in all the organisations that work intensely with the pandemic to work with healthcare and not the reporting, and work with communicable disease protection and not work with reporting,” Karin Tegmark Wisell of the Public Health Agency told us.

The agency has said work is underway to get SmiNet back up and running, but no timeline has been given.

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