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Today in Sweden: a roundup of the latest news on Thursday

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

Today in Sweden: a roundup of the latest news on Thursday
Centre Party leader Annie Lööf arriving at parliament for the party leader debates. Lööf tested positive for Covid-19 later that day. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Sweden pledges to compensate homeowners for record-high energy bills

In a press conference yesterday, Finance Minister Mikael Damberg and Energy Minister Khashayar Farmanbar announced plans to offer compensation to homeowners after historically high energy bills this winter.

The compensation will be based on consumption rather than income, with the maximum offered to those using more than 2,000 kWh per month. The maximum amount of cash back will be 2,000 kronor per month ($223), so it will be capped at a total of 6,000 kronor.

Households that consume less electricity than 2,000 kWh per month will also be able to get money back, but not as much. The exact amount will be based on a sliding scale, but it is not clear exactly how it will work.

Here is what we know so far about who will benefit.

Swedish vocabulary: elpriskompensation – compensation for electricity prices

Centre Party Leader Annie Lööf tests positive for Covid-19

Annie Lööf announced that she had tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday evening via Twitter, saying: “I feel completely symptom-free, but tested positive this evening via a quick test.”

She further explained that she chose to test herself after someone who she had met at the end of last week began to show symptoms and tested positive. 

“I am following the recommendations in place, isolating myself and my family, and will take a PCR test as soon as there are available times. As I said, I’m doing fine and have no symptoms, but I trust the quick test and am limiting my contacts to my family.”

Lööf was in parliament earlier on Wednesday for the first party leader debate of the year.

Swedish vocabulary: snabbtest – quick test

Omicron may be the way out of the pandemic, experts say

Omicron is more infectious than earlier variants, but does not appear to cause as serious illness.

Magnus Gisslén, professor in infectious diseases at Gothenburg University, told SVT’s Morgonstudion today that he believes infection rates will reach a peak within a few weeks, and that Omicron will contribute towards achieving herd immunity.

“When enough people have been infected, and many who have been vaccinated have had minor cases, infection rates will decrease as the virus will not have as many people to infect,” he told SVT.

“I believe that we should reevaluate this illness soon, and that it should no longer be classified as a danger to public health,” he said.

Niklas Arnberg, professor of virology at Umeå University believes that the term ‘herd immunity’ has changed during the pandemic.

“Vaccines don’t protect as well from Omicron, which is extremely infectious. We are going to need to live with the virus, and cannot immunise it away,” Arnberg said to SVT Morgonstudion. “I don’t think we will need restrictions by late spring, but I can’t speculate an exact date”.

Swedish vocabulary: flockimmunitet – herd immunity

Man accused of burning down Gävle goat to appear in court

Proceedings start today against the man accused of burning down Gävle’s famous (or infamous?) Christmas goat, SVT reports.

The 13-metre-high giant straw goat in the Swedish east coast town of Gävle is famous around the world for being set on fire (which, just to be clear, is illegal!). Since its inception in 1966, the Gävlebock has burned down 30 times. Prior to 2020, it last burned down in 2016.

Security footage of the goat from early on the morning of December 17th shows a man wearing a grey hoodie crawling through the double fencing around the goat and setting fire to it. The face of the person setting fire to the goat is partially visible in the video footage.

The suspect denies involvement in the crime.

Swedish vocabulary: bockbrännaren – the goat burner

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

ADHD tests for immigrant kids, Turk deported, train problems, and ISA tax proposal, find out what's going on in Sweden with The Local's roundup

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

Moderates propose ADHD tests for all kids in vulnerable areas

The Moderate Party in Stockholm wants to rapid test all children in “vulnerable areas” for ADHD so that more can get diagnosed and given medication. 

The party stresses that the tests would be voluntary and would be carried out at primary care centres from the age of five onwards. 

“The quicker you can put in place measures, the better the outcomes,” says Irene Svenonius, the party’s leader in the municipality, claiming that children in Sweden with an immigrant background are less likely to be medicated for ADHD than other children in Sweden, and that there is a link between childhood ADHD and violent crime later in life. 

“We need to find these children, and that is going to help prevent crime,” said the party’s justice spokesman Johan Forsell. 

Swedish vocab: brottsförebyggande – preventative of crime 

Sweden extradites first Turk since striking Nato deal

Sweden’s government said on Thursday that it would hand over a Turkish citizen convicted of credit card fraud to Ankara, the first known extradition since Sweden struck a deal with Turkey promising to deal with extraditions “expeditiously and thoroughly”.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to block both Sweden and Finland from NATO membership unless they meet several demands, including the extradition of people Ankara considers “terrorists”.

Erdogan accuses the two countries of being havens for Kurdish militants, specifically highlighting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The man facing extradition was identified in Swedish court documents as Okan Kale, and was convicted in Turkey of credit card fraud in 2013 and 2016.

Swedish vocab: att utlämna – to deport 

Train problems to continue into autumn 

The Swedish Transport Administration is still facing problems with its new time table system, which, in combination with track work, will mean continuing train delays into the autumn,” Sweden’s state broadcaster SR has reported. 

The administration is supposed to draw up a plan on how trains should travel when there is track work 18 weeks in advance, but it is currently only able to do so two to four weeks in advance, which is making it difficult for train companies to sell train tickets. 

“This is something we are of course working intensively to improve,” Mikael Eriksson, the agency’s marketing chief, said, adding that most trains were not impacted by the track work, and that the planning system should be working properly by the end of the year. 

Swedish vocab: framförhållning – long-term planning 

Centre Party wants to remove tax from savings accounts

Sweden’s Centre Party has proposed scrapping tax on the first 30,000 kronor held by people in Sweden in Individual Savings Accounts, in order to encourage saving among Swedes, 

“A lot of people have only a small amount of extra money,” she says. “It would be simple to start saving and we want to especially benefit small savers, those who save a few hundred kronor every month for their pension, or a first apartment, or to build up a buffer for the future.” 

Swedish vocab: en buffert – a buffer