Covid-19 case at Malmö conference: Handshakes were ‘avoided’

Stefan Löfven shaking hands with Ronald S Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, at the conference in Malmö on Wednesday. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
Handshakes were "avoided as much as possible" at an international Holocaust conference in Sweden, a government spokesperson told The Local after the Latvian president Egils Levits tested positive for Covid-19.

During the conference in the southern Swedish city of Malmö, Levits and President of Finland Sauli Niinistö had a chat over breakfast.

After Levits tested positive, Niinistö decided to go into quarantine due to exposure to Covid-19, reported Finnish news agency SPT.

Although many attending the conference did so digitally, it is estimated that around 350-400 attended in-person at the conference site in Malmö’s southern Hyllie district. Among those attending in-person were King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden.

According to Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, who hosted the conference, attendees were “careful not to shake hands – this was a rule throughout the conference”, Löfven told TT.

Löfven was pictured shaking hands with Ronald S Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, at the conference, so The Local asked for clarification on the health and safety precautions taken. A government spokesperson told us that “all delegations were told prior to the conference not to shake hands, and this was avoided as much as possible”.

When asked if he was going to take any further measures, Löfven, who is vaccinated against Covid-19, told TT that he is “continuing to follow recommendations” set by the Public Health Agency to go into isolation if experiencing symptoms.

Sweden’s current Covid-19 recommendations state that you should stay at home and get tested if you develop symptoms. If you don’t have symptoms, only people who aren’t fully vaccinated have to keep a distance to other people, and there is no mandate to wear a face mask.

A government spokesperson told TT that there is currently no information to suggest that other any other attendees or employees at the conference have been infected with Covid-19.

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