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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
Anders Tegnell, Sweden's former state epidemiologist, seen on laptops during one of the authorities' daily press conferences. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Tegnell’s successor to stop after four months 

Anders Lindblom, who succeeded Anders Tegnell as Sweden’s state epidemiologist on March 14th, is to step down on June 30th after just four months in the post, the Dagens Medicin newspaper has reported. 

The news comes after it emerged that the international post that the Public Health Agency had said Tegnell was leaving to take up turned out not to have been finalised. 

Sources at the World Health Organisation (WHO) said last month that Tegnell’s role coordinating international vaccine work had not yet been finalised. 

Christer Janson, the Public Health Agency’s press chief, told the TT newswire that the decision over Christer Janson’s employment was not related to the issues over Tegnell’s WHO post, and that Lindblom had always only been contracted to work until June 30th. 

Swedish employment watchdog launches probe into Centre Party 

The Swedish Work Environment Authority is to launch a probe into work conditions at the Centre Party’s national headquarters in Stockholm, the Aftonbladet newspaper has reported.

“This is about shortfalls in the organisation and social working conditions which have come out in the media,” Ulrika Scholander, head of the organisation’s inspections division, told the newspaper. 

Aftonbladet has previously reported that several people have been off work sick for long periods due to stressful working conditions. 

Sweden’s foreign minister ‘worried Nato will be reduced to an election issue’ 
Sweden’s foreign minister, Ann Linde, has warned that the Moderate Party’s decision to make Nato membership the first of its five election pledges is “irresponsible” and risks reducing a complex issue to an election strategy. 
“What I’m most worried about is that this important issue for keeping Sweden’s population safe should in some way be reduced to an election issue,” she told TT after meeting Nato’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels. “That’s why I think this gambit from the Moderates is extremely unfortunate — that they’re not going to give a fig what the Social Democrats think about an issue that concerns the entire population’s security, just to win some points in the election.” 

Opposition parties block government school proposal

The Centre Party has teamed up with Sweden’s four right-wing opposition parties to block the government’s proposals to give more funding to municipal schools than to state-funded but privately run free schools, and to put limits on free schools’ queuing systems, Swedish state broadcaster SR and the Aftonbladet newspaper have reported. 
“They are giving the responsibility to headteachers to create a good mix in the school, and it’s unclear what demands they are making,” Lars Hjälmerud, the Moderate Party’s school spokesperson, told Aftonbladet. “It’s dangerous. They are using children as an integration tool.” 
The five parties do not yet have an alternative proposal to put to parliament. 

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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