New restrictions in Sweden for households with coronavirus infections

New restrictions in Sweden for households with coronavirus infections
Sweden’s state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, during Thursday's press conference on the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Amir Nabizadeh/TT
People in Sweden who live in the same household as someone infected with Covid-19 now have to isolate at home, the Swedish Public Health Agency announced at a press conference on Thursday.

“We think it is reasonable that people who live with someone who has Covid-19 stay at home to reduce the risk of spreading it further”, says state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell.

“You should stay at home for seven days but be tested after five days,” Tegnell adds.

Anyone affected by the rules will be contacted by an infection tracker and get more information about what applies.  Decisions about rules of conduct are made by doctors, and the rules may mean that you are not allowed to go to work.

“This is not something you take the initiative for yourself. You will be contacted by the health service to get these rules of conduct formally. It is only then that they apply”, says Tegnell.

The Swedish Public Health Agency has recommended that certain members of the household are exempt from the new rules.

According to the Swedish Public Health Agency these include pupils in pre-school, elementary and upper secondary-level special schools, as well as people who have previously had a positive Covid-19 test or detected antibodies within the last six months.

In certain professions, for example health and care work, the rules can be eased more quickly by direct testing, if it could cause a heavy loss of staff at a place of work.

“We have always thought that it is very important for children to go to school”, Tegnell told news wire TT when asked why children and young people don’t have to stay at home in the event of a confirmed infection in the household.

“The second part is that we now have a pretty good basis for saying that children are not a driving force in this spread of infection. They sometimes become contagious but rarely become seriously ill and very rarely infect other people,” Tegnell added.

A Covid-19 self-test kit in Skåne. Photo: Johan Nilsson / TT

Tegnell told TT that implementing the recommendations earlier in the Spring was not reasonable, due in part to the risk of large absences of staff in elderly and medical care.

In July, the Public Health Agency announced new guidelines for people who had come into close contact with someone infected with Covid-19.  But the agency's advice page for people whose family members were sick, was only updated on September 1st. 

Up until that date, it had stated that symptom-free family members should “do as normal and go to preschool, school or work, but at the same time be especially attentive to other symptoms.”

READ MORE:  What's going on with Sweden's changing advice for close contacts of coronavirus cases?

In recent days, the number of hospital patients with Covid-19 in intensive care has increased. In just under three weeks, the number has doubled, from 12 to 24 patients.

The number of Covid-19 patients in ICU care had previously been falling since April, when the peak number of 558 patients was recorded on 25th and 26th April. That had fallen to only 12 patients on 11th September.

Tegnell told TT that the numbers were still low but the increase was notable.

“People are cared for so differently in intensive care. Some are there for a long time, while others are only a short time, so I would not call it a trend break, although it is definitely an important signal to keep an eye on,” he said.

According to the Swedish Public Health Agency's latest statistics on Thursday, no new deaths of people with confirmed Covid-19 have been reported in Sweden. A total of 5,893 infected people have died in the country. A total of 93,615 people have been confirmed infected in Sweden.


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