Sweden could face new restrictions as Covid hospitalisations surge

Covid-19 hospital admissions are on the rise in almost all of Sweden, and if the increase continues more restrictions could be in the pipeline, warns the Public Health Agency.

Sweden could face new restrictions as Covid hospitalisations surge
File photo of oxygen tubes at a hospital in Sweden. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

A total of 473 Covid-19 patients were being treated in Swedish hospitals on Monday, up from 354 last week, according to figures from the Public Health Agency. Of those, 60 were in intensive care units, up from 46 last Monday. Beware that the exact numbers may vary depending on how quick Sweden’s 21 regions are to update their own figures, so they may not be entirely up to date.

The Public Health Agency’s director-general Karin Tegmark Wisell warned that there’s a risk that restrictions will need to be stepped up if the numbers continue to increase when the agency presents its winter forecast to the government early next week.

“If it continues this way it is possible we will soon need to return to further measures,” Tegmark Wisell told TT on Tuesday.

Sweden’s hospitalisation rate is currently low compared to previous peaks and to many other European countries – but it is increasing fast, and the National Board of Health and Welfare predicts that the burden on healthcare will increase over Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

In the Stockholm region, both the Södersjukhuset and Danderyd hospitals entered so-called stabsläge on Tuesday – essentially a heightened state of preparedness to quickly be able to decide on the reallocation of internal resources and to call in extra staff.

“The situation is challenging, with both Covid-19 and the seasonal flu affecting both patients and staff,” said Danderyd Hospital’s CEO Yvonne Haglund Åkerlind in a statement.

Some of the restrictions and recommendations that may be introduced in Sweden if the situation worsens include rolling out vaccine passes to venues such as restaurants and long-distance public transport, strengthening work-from-home guidelines and partly returning to distance teaching at universities.

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Sweden to stop offering Covid jabs to teenagers

Sweden's Public Health Agency said on Friday it was no longer recommending that children aged 12 to 17 get vaccinated against Covid-19, citing the "very low risk" for the group. The new recommendation will come into force on October 31.

Sweden to stop offering Covid jabs to teenagers

“The decision means that as of November 1, 2022 only children in certain vulnerable groups are recommended to get and thereby offered vaccinations against Covid-19,” the agency said.

“Overall we see that the need for care as a result of Covid-19 has been low among children and young people… and has in addition subsided since the Omicron variant started spreading,” Sören Andersson, head of the Public Health Agency’s vaccination department, said in the statement.

For those over 18, the Swedish recommendation is three doses, with a fourth recommended for those over 65.

The country made global headlines when it refused to implement draconian measures as other countries around the world went into lockdown.

Sweden saw a slight increase in the number of deaths during the summer, but the number is now falling.

After having a high death toll at the beginning of the pandemic, the Nordic country now has fewer deaths per capita than the European average.