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

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 Wednesday
Fire services and police work to put out a fire in a number of connected buildings on the southern hospital campus in Ängelholm, Skåne. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Meeting with UK-led military group ‘sends an important signal’: Swedish PM 

Sweden plans to further develop its defence cooperation with the UK-led JEF, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said at the end of a meeting in London with leaders of the 10-country defence group, which she said “sends an important signal”. 

“This meeting is an important signal to the world around us on our cooperation and unity,” Andersson told Swedish journalists in London. “We are determined to continue with our sanctions against Russia and our support for Ukraine.” 

In a joint statement following the meeting, the JEF stopped short of guaranteeing Sweden’s security. 

“We will work in complementarity to Nato and the EU to ensure that Russia cannot continue to threaten European security,” the group said, “including through recalibrating our approach to Russia, reducing our reliance on Russian hydrocarbons, taking part in forward defence in conjunction with our Allies, reinforcing our cooperation within and beyond the JEF, and playing an active part in restoring a safer and more peaceful world.” 

In the statement, JEF countries said they would soon launch “an enhanced programme of integrated JEF exercises and activities at sea, on land and in the air in the High North, North Atlantic and Baltic Sea region.”

Man arrested over Skåne hospital fire 

A twenty-year-old man has been seized on suspicion of arson, after a fire broke out in two houses in the hospital district of Ängelholm, southern Sweden. 

“Staff from ten different fire stations took part in the operation, which is now winding down,” Glenn Borgkvist, from the local rescue services, told TT at around 7.35am this morning.

Emergency services in the city fought through the night to put out the fire, which was under control by 9am. 

“At lunch, we expect to be able to go over into some form of monitoring phase,” Borgkvist said. 

Five connected buildings are affected, including preschools and a care home for the elderly.

40 people have been evacuated and nearby residents have been told to stay indoors and close their windows and ventilation systems to keep out smoke. There are no known injuries.

Swedish vocabulary: mordbrand – arson

Swedish regions considering vaccination buses for Ukrainian refugees 

All Ukrainians over twelve years old who come to Sweden will be offered the Covid-19 vaccine, Sweden’s health agencies and regional health authorities have decided, with some regions planning to use vaccination buses, and other considering drop-in vaccination centres.  

The World Health Organisation recently warned that war in Ukraine could increase the spread of infection of Covid-19. Vaccine coverage in the country is low, around 35 percent according to Our World in Data, and the country was in a fourth wave of infection when Russia invaded.

Sweden’s regional health authorities are now working on how best to spread information about the importance of vaccination. Ukrainians fleeing the war will not have to pay for a vaccine, and it will be possible for them to get vaccinated without a Swedish social security number or personnummer.

Some regions are also cooperating with the Migration Agency to offer vaccines at refugee housing centres.

Here is The Local’s guide on how to book Covid-19 vaccines in each Swedish region, as well as advice on how to do so if you don’t have a personnummer.

Swedish vocabulary: flyktingboende – refugee housing centre

EU citizens eligible for SFI studies are having their applications rejected

According to the Swedish Education Act (Skollagen), an individual has the right to study SFI from July in the year they turn 16 if they live in Sweden and lack the basic knowledge of the Swedish language which the course is designed to teach.

Usually, “living in Sweden” means that an applicant needs to be registered in the Tax Agency’s population register, meaning that they have a personnummer.

However, under EU law, EU citizens (as well as EES and Swiss citizens), have the right to study SFI in Sweden even if they don’t have this number.

Despite this, multiple Swedish municipalities wrongly require EU citizens applying to study SFI to provide a personnummer or, in some cases, a coordination number (samordningsnummer). A coordination number is a temporary number which can be provided to those who don’t qualify for a personnummer, but who still need an identification number in order, for example, to pay tax.

The Local found that at least four Swedish municipalities who were demanding applicants fulfil extra requirements not set out in the Education Act in order to register for their SFI courses. Read more here.

Swedish vocabulary: att vara bosatt – to be resident

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Today in Sweden: A round up of the latest news on Friday

The rising cost of ice cream, coronavirus warnings and the hottest Midsummer in 50 years. Here's Sweden's news on Friday.

Today in Sweden: A round up of the latest news on Friday

Rising cost of ice cream

As you reach for something cool this Midsummer, you may notice that the price of ice cream has increased in Sweden.

According to Matpriskollen, their best-selling Magnum almonds are 13 percent more expensive this year and the price of Piggelin ice creams has risen by 24 percent.

The rising cost of energy and raw materials has made it more expensive for ice cream manufacturers to run their factories. 

“Many raw materials have risen quite sharply in price, everything from milk to plastic packaging”, Stefan Carlsson, CEO of the manufacturer Sia Glass said.

And if you’re wondering what happened to the ice cream Twister Spirello; it is currently unavailable in Sweden. The ice cream is manufactured in Russia, where GB Glace no longer import and export from, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We are actively working to find alternative manufacturing opportunities,” Sandhya Forselius, communications manager at Unilever, which owns GB Glace, wrote in an email to newswire TT.

Warnings over coronavirus spreading during Midsummer festivities as cases rise

A doctor in the Blekinge region has warned people to be cautious about joining in Midsummer parties if they have any Covid symptoms, as cases have doubled over the last four weeks.

“Think ahead this Midsummer, especially if you are going to celebrate with elderly and fragile people. Refrain if you feel the slightest cold,” infection control doctor Bengt Wittesjö said in a press release.

In the Blekinge region, the number of positive Covid cases has increased from six percent in week 21, to 44 percent in week 25 and there are now more people in hospital with Covid.

At the hospitals in Blekinge, protection measures such as masks have been reintroduced.

‘Hottest in 50 years’: Swedish Midsummer set to be a scorcher

This Midsummer could be Sweden’s warmest since 1970, weather forecasters say, with temperatures of up to 30 degrees expected for southern Sweden and between 20-25 degrees expected further north.

“It could potentially be the hottest Midsummer’s Eve in 50 years,” SVT’s meteorologist Tora Tomasdottir told the public broadcaster.

In 1970, temperatures of 34.4 degrees were measured in Köping on Midsummer.

“It’s not going to be that hot this year, but we could reach over the 31 degrees measured in Målilla six years ago,” she further told SVT.

“For those planning on partying all night long, you maybe don’t need to take that many extra layers with you, as it will be warm during the evening, too,” Tomasdottir told SVT.

The Swedish Public Health Agency is also warning people to take care in the heat by drinking plenty of fluids and trying to keep cool.

“In general, we in Sweden have a bad idea of ​​how dangerous the heat can be. It can be dangerous for everyone, not just for risk groups”, Elin Andersson, researcher in environmental health at the Swedish Public Health Agency, said.