Norway tightens border rules after Covid outbreak at Swedish tantra festival

Norway tightens border rules after Covid outbreak at Swedish tantra festival
Ängsbacka is a centre 'for personal and spiritual growth' according to its website. File photo not related to the incident in the article. Photo: Ängsbacka
At the time of writing 106 people have been confirmed with Covid-19 infections after attending a week-long tantra event in rural Sweden.

The festival at the Ängsbacka venue, in the village of Molkom in Sweden’s Värmland region, lasted for five days at the end of July. According to its website, it offered “workshops, music, dance, conscious sexuality and meetings from the heart”.

Värmland health officials fear that all participants may have been exposed to the infection, and that they may then spread it in the community.

Infection tracing is ongoing and more cases may arise. 

Ängsbacka said they had about 500 guests for Tantra Week this year, half of what’s usual. Guests were not required to show a negative coronavirus test result to gain entry to the site, but were expected to stay home if they were experiencing symptoms. 

The annual event attracts visitors from all over the world and claims to be the world’s largest tantra festival.

The first case of Covid was confirmed on July 29th, during the festival. The outbreak came to the attention of Smittskydd Värmland (the regional infection tracing body) on August 3rd.

“Our strategy throughout this period has been to isolate people with symptoms and, as far as possible, ensure that this person returns home safely,” Ängsbacka said in a press statement. 

The majority of infections were among people who were unvaccinated. 

Ten people who tested positive said that they had received one dose of vaccine against Covid-19. Four people said that they had received two doses. But “most people” who received two doses received the second dose less than two weeks before the outbreak began, Smittskydd Värmland told The Local.

Anna Skogstam, the infectious disease doctor for Värmland, told SVT that “in principle everyone who has participated in the festival may have been exposed”.

In an English press release on their website the organisers of the tantra festival said: “We believe that people came to Ängsbacka this summer with a greater relaxation around Covid-19 and perhaps as a result routines etc. were not followed as strictly as last year.”

Ängsbacka has since cancelled forthcoming events and has closed down its camping facilities for the rest of the month.

“Whether it was wrong or not to run Tantra Week feels hard to say, we simply have to stand for that we did it and take the consequences,” the statement said. 

On Friday, neighbouring Norway announced it would once again classify Värmland as a “red region” after the outbreak caused the region’s total infection numbers to spike. You can read more about Norway’s entry restrictions here.


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