World News – US – Sweden considers ‘local lockdowns’ in change in coronavirus strategy


Sweden quietly modifies pandemic strategy and will empower regional authorities to act

The Swedish public health agency will start working with regions struggling with the worst coronavirus outbreaks this week to introduce local restrictions, as the country toughens its approach to prevent a resurgence of infections

The regulation, which comes into force on Monday, empowers regional health authorities to ask citizens to avoid shopping malls, museums, libraries, swimming pools, gymnasiums, sports training, sports matches and concerts

It also allows them, in consultation with the agency, to ask people to avoid public transport or to avoid visiting the elderly and other people in risk groups

« This is more of a lockdown situation – but a local lockdown, » said Johan Nojd, who heads the infectious disease department in Uppsala

The number of cases in Uppsala has increased tenfold in recent weeks, with 185 cases per 100,000 in the past fifteen weeks

The number of new cases in Sweden has increased since early September, with a seven-day average of 65 per million people per day reported to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control on Friday, up from 71, 40 and 25 cases per million in Denmark, Finland and Norway respectively

Dr Nojd will hold a meeting with Swedish state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell on Monday to discuss available measures to put in place

He said he is currently considering asking people not to visit the elderly or other people in a risk group, and also to avoid unnecessary travel, especially on transport in common

If contract research were to show links between infections and other places or activities, he said he would not hesitate to impose further measures

« Maybe tomorrow we’ll have several talks about concerts or restaurants, and then maybe you could say, ‘in Uppsala now for two or three weeks, that’s the advice of the Public Health Agency not to sit late in restaurants’ « 

Bitte Brastad, the agency’s legal director, described the new measures as « something between regulations and recommendations. » This is the strongest recommendation the authorities can make but – unlike many other countries – do not impose fines for non-compliance

Dr Joacim Rocklov, professor of epidemiology at Umea University, said new local measures show Sweden is quietly changing strategy

« What has happened in the past two weeks is a move towards a model similar to that used in Norway and many other countries, » he said

« It is very obvious that this is a new strategy, but the newspapers still report on ‘the Swedish strategy’ as if it had been corrected in March »

In March, Norway closed restaurants, cafes, bars and hairdressers, and those who defied the ordinance were fined for non-compliance

This wouldn’t be the case with the New Swedish Approach, although if a city issued a strong recommendation not to visit restaurants or hairdressers, many could close

Dr Rocklov said he believed the resurgence of infections in Stockholm and other cities that suffered many cases in the spring, such as Milan and Madrid, had called into question the Agency’s belief in public health that the immunity of the population may soon start to disappear the pandemic

« I think they must have been shocked by this, after all these strong claims that we were getting closer to immunity in April and May They must have realized that this is not really the case »

Dr Tegnell said on Thursday that the fall resurgence of infections had changed his agency’s understanding

« I think the obvious conclusion is that the level of immunity in these towns is not at all as high as what we have, maybe some people have believed it, » he said. he declares

« I think what we are seeing is in large part a consequence of the very heterogeneous spread of this disease, which means that while you feel like there have been a lot of cases in some big cities , there are still huge pockets of people who have not yet been touched « 

A preprinted study released last week by Stockholm University math professor Tom Britton – one of Sweden’s leading epidemiological modelers – found that even with more than 20% of the population of the city immune, the city still had to impose preventive measures to avoid a resurgence in the cases

« Immunity is a bit on our side, but there is still a significant risk of future epidemics in Sweden, » said Dr Britton

« If we didn’t care about restrictions or preventative measures, then I think we would see a big second wave, not as big as in the spring, but still important

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Coronavirus, lockdown, Sweden

Global news – United States – Sweden considers ‘local lockdowns’ in change in coronavirus strategy


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