The southern Swedish region on Tuesday became the second in the country to have stricter coronavirus measures introduced, in response to a rise in new cases in the area.
“To us, this is something new, I would say we haven't had this kind of increase. Even though we only tested people who were admitted to hospital during spring, the development of the increase was quite slow. So it is something new for us to see this quick rise,” Eva Melander, the region's infectious disease physician, told The Local.
The stricter recommendations in Skåne became effective immediately and are currently in place until November 17th, but this period may be extended.
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Under these new rules, residents of the region should avoid using public transport unless this is unavoidable, for example commuting to a job which requires presence in person (everyone in Sweden is urged to work from home if possible wherever they live in the country).
They should also avoid “indoor environments such as shops, shopping centres, museums, libraries, swimming pools and gyms” and events with other people such as “meetings, concerts, performances, sports training, matches or competitions”. Exceptions apply to essential visits to shops such as supermarkets and pharmacies, and sports training for children born in or after 2005.
In addition, the recommendations include avoiding physical contact with people from a different household, including organising or attending social events.
“Now we need to pull the emergency brake to break this development. It's serious now,” said Skåne's infectious disease physician Eva Melander at a press conference where she explained the average number of new cases per day had doubled within two weeks.
“Everyone really needs to help out and take responsibility. Everyone must follow the stricter advice to reduce the spread of infection.”
The region had already said it planned to keep the limit of attendees permitted at public events at 50, despite the government allowing an increase to 300 at certain seated events.
Last week residents in Uppsala were told to avoid public transport and close contact with people outside their household, following a rule change on October 19th which allowed for local recommendations of this kind. Decisions on whether to introduce local recommendations are made by the region and Public Health Agency.
According to figures shared by the Public Health Agency at their biweekly press conference on Tuesday, the average rate of new cases per 100,000 people was 149 in Skåne over the last 14 days. This compares to figures of 146 per 100,000 across the country as a whole, which rises to 194 per 100,000 in Uppsala and even higher at 197 per 100,000 in Stockholm.
In Skåne, the number of people receiving hospital care has risen from 38 to 48 over the previous 24 hours.