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Last Week in Sweden: a Covid Report (December 27, 2020 – January 3, 2021)

Throughout the Coronavirus crisis, I’ve been summarizing on a weekly basis the most important and talked about happenings from a Swedish perspective. This is week 53 (December 27, 2020 – January 3, 2021).

(This article was originally posted in Swedish)

8,727 people have now died with Covid-19 in Sweden; an increase of 448 reported deaths compared to last week. These numbers are roughly on par with the autumn’s highest weekly record, which could mean that the death toll has now reached a plateau, but the New Year weekend has probably delayed the reporting of data. If we look at Altmejd’s forecast, Sweden is now at just over 80 deaths a day, even though it’s difficult to be certain of the numbers.

Almost all data is now delayed. The Swedish Public Health Agency argues that this is due to the Christmas holiday making people reluctant to visit hospitals, and that Christmas leave for staff creates a backlog in reporting. This, together with reduced opening hours for testing, means that the week’s low number of tests performed (232,000) and the number of infected (37,000) cannot be interpreted as a reduction in the number of infections. Especially not when you look at occupancy in Sweden’s hospitals, which continues to increase.

News from the past week has otherwise mostly consisted of political scandals. In one week, four of Sweden’s highest-ranking politicians and officials have been found to be breaking the recommendations they themselves have set.

Politicians going against recommendations have whipped up strong feelings among the general public and healthcare professionals, and articles about the events have received intense reactions during the week. Opposition parties have stayed silent, but in the media, political commentators have written attention-grabbing articles about how difficult it will be for leaders to credibly demand that the public follow advice that the government itself overlooked. The strongest criticism has been reserved for Dan Eliasson, but the latest is that he may keep his job.

Plenty of infringements against the recommendations were also seen among the public during the week. Even though the general advice seems to have been obeyed over the Christmas period, it’s been neglected to a greater extent during New Year celebrations. In the largest cities, thousands of people crowded together on New Year’s Eve and calls to the emergency services were much like a normal New Year’s Eve. Healthcare professionals have once again expressed resentment over people’s irresponsibility, as the pressure on the health service is still severe. The Chair of the Healthcare Association in the region of Dalarna appealed to tourists to avoid skiing trips to the popular resort Sälen, as local healthcare services are unable to handle more cases.

The hours during which face masks are recommended on public transport have now been published. This week, the Swedish Public Health Agency published guidelines that everyone from upper secondary school age and upwards is recommended to wear a mask between 7am and 9am and 4pm through 6pm on weekdays. The advice applies to public transport across the whole country, even though overcrowding is mostly a problem in the bigger cities.

Vaccine. A Swedish man suffering with multiple illnesses died the day after he was vaccinated against Covid-19. The death is not suspected to have anything to do with the vaccination, even if a report must be carried out according to current procedures. Nevertheless, the vaccine was linked to the death in several Swedish headlines during the week.

The Swedish Public Health Agency has now clarified their plan for the next phase of vaccinations. Vaccination is going according to plan, and those over 70 are set to start being vaccinated in February together with other risk groups. In other countries, intensive care staff are being vaccinated first, something that more and more people in Sweden think is a more significant priority. Meanwhile, many of the world’s governments are trying their hardest to get their populations vaccinated as quickly as possible, including measures such as creating registers of citizens who do not get vaccinated. In Sweden, the proportion of people who want to get vaccinated is increasing, now reaching 71 percent, according to state broadcaster SVT. During the week, a doctor who raged against vaccine skeptics garnered particular attention, as did this Instagram picture:

– What do we want? – A vaccine!
– When do we want it? – As soon as possible!
– The vaccine is ready! – That was a bit too quick, we don’t want to take it
.

This week’s news in brief:

Finally:

Even Greta Thunberg (who turned 18 this week) is irritated by Dan Eliasson’s travel, but most likely for other reasons than just the virus:

That’s all for this week, let me know in the comments if you think there’s something missing!

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