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TODAY IN SWEDEN

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

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 Tuesday
An unusually high number of people are applying for sick leave benefits due to the Omicron outbreak. Here's a picture of a drop-in vaccination queue in Stockholm. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

In stats: How Omicron is affecting Swedish sick leave

The Omicron outbreak in Sweden is reflected not only in a high infection rate but also in the amount of sick leave people are claiming from the Social Insurance Agency.

Last week the number of applications for sick leave (sjukpenning) increased to 40,000 last week, from 27,000 the week before, reports Swedish news agency TT.

Applications for disease carrier’s allowance (smittbärarpenning) meanwhile grew to 11,000 last week, the highest weekly number yet. This is a benefit paid to people who are unable to work because they may be infected with a contagious illness, for example people who are recommended to quarantine because a family member tested positive.

There were 89,000 vabbing applications – staying at home to look after a sick child – almost double that of the second week of 2021, but far below the record levels in the early pandemic, when more than 191,000 parents applied for vab in a single week.

Swedish vocabulary: contagious – smittsam

Swedish parliament cuts number of MPs over Covid concerns

The Swedish parliament has again agreed to lower the number of members allowed in the chamber at the same time. That means that a maximum of 249 members of parliament will be allowed to take part in votes, down from the standard 349 MPs.

The number of seats will be allocated in proportion to how many seats the eight parties usually have. Between March 2020 and September 2021, only 55 MPs were permitted in the chamber at the same time, but the rules were relaxed after the summer hiatus.

Everyone present in the chamber is urged to wear a face mask.

The decision comes amid rising Omicron infections in Sweden, and after three party leaders tested positive for Covid-19 after a vote and meetings in parliament last week.

Swedish vocabulary: a member of parliament – en riksdagsledamot

Sweden limits public events to 500 people

The Swedish government has formally decided to cap the maximum number of people allowed at indoor public events to 500, which will come into force on Wednesday. But if the area can be sectioned off into smaller areas, the cap will apply to each section.

People holding private events in public venues will not be allowed to invite more than 20 people, with the exception of funerals where a maximum of 50 will be allowed.

Covid vaccine passes are required at events attended by more than 50 people.

Swedish vocabulary: an event – ett evenemang

Which Swedish banks let foreign citizens apply for a BankID?

New BankID rules mean that many foreigners will no longer be able to apply for one online. And some banks have as a result blocked the service entirely for those who don’t hold a Swedish passport or national ID – which are only available to Swedish citizens.

Most other banks, however, are still able to help foreign citizens who wish to apply for BankID, by for example instead verifying their identity at an in-person meeting. The Local contacted all banks in Sweden to find out what their current rules are.

Swedish vocabulary: a passport – ett pass

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TODAY IN SWEDEN

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

Biden backs Sweden in Nato, first case of monkeypox and labour market heating up. Here's Friday's news.

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

Sweden registers first confirmed case of monkeypox

One person in Sweden has a confirmed case of monkeypox, health authorities said on Thursday following similar cases in Europe and North America.

The rare disease usually manifests itself through fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a rash on the hands and face.

“One person in the Stockholm region has been confirmed to be infected with monkey pox,” Sweden’s Public Health Agency said in a statement.

The infected person “is not seriously ill, but has been given care,” according to the agency.

“We still don’t know where the person was infected. An investigation is currently underway,” Klara Sonden, an infectious disease doctor and investigator at the agency, said in a statement.

The health authority is now “investigating with the regional infection control centres whether there are more cases in Sweden,” it said.

On Wednesday, Spain, Portugal, Canada and the United States all reported having cases of confirmed or suspected monkeypox.

Authorities have generally been reassuring, with Spanish and Portuguese officials stressing that the disease is not very contagious between humans.

Swedish vocabulary: apkoppor – monkeypox

Biden gives ‘full, total, complete backing’ for Swedish Nato bid

US President Joe Biden on Thursday strongly backed Finland and Sweden’s bid to join Nato in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as the Nordic nations’ leaders promised to address concerns raised by Turkey.

With the red-carpet pomp of a White House visit, Biden welcomed Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto days after they formally announced their Nato aspirations and said he was submitting their applications to the US Congress, where there is bipartisan support for ratification.

“The bottom line is simple. Quite straightforward: Finland and Sweden make Nato stronger,” Biden said, offering the “full, total, complete backing of the United States of America.”

“Sweden and Finland have strong democratic institutions, strong militaries and strong and transparent economies, and a strong moral sense of what is right,” Biden said with the two leaders at his side in the White House Rose Garden.

“They meet every Nato requirement, and then some,” Biden told assembled reporters without taking any questions.

Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate who frequently fights Biden’s agenda, said he would seek quick action on the bids by Sweden and Finland. He noted that Finland already commits two percent of its GDP to defence and that Sweden “is on pace to reach that target very soon” — a threshold backed by Nato and long pushed by Washington.

“These nations are setting an example which current treaty allies would do well to follow,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “So I’ll be proud to continue amplifying their case for accession however I can.”

Swedish vocabulary: backar – to back

Labour market set to heat up over summer

According to new figures, this summer’s job market looks to be heating up.

Employers’ demand for staff has reached the highest summer levels ever, according to staffing company Manpowers’ quarterly measurements which started the measurements 19 years ago.

The employment index is standing at +25 before the third quarter and is based on 765 interviews with Swedish employers. Although lower than last quarter’s figure of +37, this is still the highest reported figure for a summer period.

The index shows the amount of employers planning to hire over the summer, minus those who are not.

“The high demand for staff is continuing despite high inflation and war close by,” Mikael Hansson, the staffing company’s Swedish boss wrote in a press statement.

The measurement was carried out between April 1st-29th, which means that factors such as the war in Ukraine and increased inflation are included in the figures, Manpower states.

All Swedish regions gave positive prognoses in all branches, but central Sweden showed a sharp decrease in the employment prognosis compared to the previous quarter. Stockholm and the Uppsala region and southern Sweden reported the strongest figures.

Swedish vocabulary: sysselsättning – employment

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