How serious is the situation right now?
The rate of new cases reported in the past 14 days was 725 cases per 100,000 residents, though the Public Health Agency's Karin Tegmark Wisell said that these figures were uncertain due to lower rates of testing over the Christmas period.
She added that this figure put Sweden as one of the hardest hit nations in Europe. Data from the European Centre of Disease Control shows that in the last two weeks of 2020, the 14-day case notification rate was 272 in France, 319 in Germany, 335 in Italy, and 590 in Denmark, while its figure for Sweden for that time period was 785.
Tegmark Wisell also pointed out that in the final two weeks of 2020, there was a drop in the number of people tested in Sweden, while the proportion of positive tests rose to 21 percent of the total tests carried out.
She also said that the agency estimated that the average number of deaths per day was around 60-70. Sweden has today reported a further 277 deaths as a result of the coronavirus, bringing the total since the start of the outbreak to 9,262. The figure of 277 doesn't represent the number of deaths over the past 24 hours; there is a backlog due to limited updating of data over public holidays.
Are new variants of the coronavirus spreading in Sweden?
Sweden has now reported 17 cases of the new coronavirus strain first detected in the UK and thought to be more infectious. Of these, 12 cases have a direct link to travel from the UK, but five cannot be linked to travel.
Tegmark Wisell said that this was still not considered as “a general spread in society”, but acknowledged that only around one percent of tests are sequenced, but said “we have special tracks to identify groups where there are greater risks that the variations may exist” such as returning travellers. For comparison, Denmark sequences around 11 percent of its tests, according to public radio show Vetenskapsradion's Camilla Widebeck, who put the question to the Public Health Agency.
One case has also been recorded of the variant first detected in South Africa, which was directly linked to returning travel.
What's the situation in intensive care?
In Sweden's intensive care units, there are a total of 763 available places, of which 596 are occupied, 390 with Covid-19 patients, 55 more Covid-19 patients than one week ago, according to the National Board of Health and Welfare.
That means that around 22 percent of intensive care places are available, but that figure is for the country as a whole and there is large variation between regions.
How many people have been vaccinated?
In the first half of the first week of January, the Swedish Medical Products Agency estimated that 40,000 people received their first dose of the vaccine against the coronavirus in Sweden. More comprehensive figures are expected tomorrow, now that the Public Health Agency has received permission to publish data on vaccinations and is working to get that data from Sweden's 21 regions.