30 percent increase in new Covid-19 cases in Sweden in last week

The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 increased by 30 percent in Sweden over the last week. This increase was especially noticeable in the major cities of Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö.

30 percent increase in new Covid-19 cases in Sweden in last week
Sara Byfors from the Public Health Agency at a press conference on Wednesday. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Last week, a record-high number of people in Sweden were tested – more than 380,000, of which 6.4 percent were positive.

“In principle, the spread of infection is increasing in all regions. Especially in the major cities,” said Sara Byfors, an expert from the Swedish Public Health Agency, at the health authorities weekly press conference, held on Wednesday instead of Thursday this week.

260 cases of the new Omicron variant of the virus have been confirmed in Sweden in total. There is not a lot of knowledge about the variant yet, but so far there is nothing to suggest that the virus makes people more seriously ill, but it appears to be more infectious.

On Wednesday, 91 Covid-19 patients were being treated in intensive care, with 471 in hospital in other departments. Infection is also increasing in elderly care.

Globally, cases of Covid-19 are slightly decreasing. In Europe, the curve is very flat – in some countries it is increasing, and in some countries it is decreasing.

“Cases are high in many countries now. And that’s before Omicron has taken hold in many countries,” said Byfors.

“It’s also clear that the vaccine is not as effective against becoming infected witth Omicron,” she said. The Public Health Agency does, however, believe that the vaccine still protects against serious illness caused by the Omicron variant.

All of the agency’s new possible scenarios show infection rates reaching a peak in January.

“We have seen with Omicron that the spread of infection happens extremely quickly, which also leads to increased pressure on healthcare services,” said Byfors.

In the agency’s worst-case scenario, Sweden will have almost 14,000 cases per day in mid-January. In the middle scenario, 8,000 cases per day, and in the best-case scenario, this number will be 4,000 per day.

According to the National Board of Health and Welfare, pressure on the healthcare system is increasing and will continue to do so until the end of January. Regions must now scale up capacity, said the board’s expert Thomas Lindén.

“We believe that capacity has been lower than we believe it should be,” he said.

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The Local’s paywall-free Covid blog is coming to an end

After two years, it's time for us to bid farewell to The Local's paywall-free Covid blog. But we'll continue to cover the pandemic in other articles.

The Local's paywall-free Covid blog is coming to an end

In March 2020, just a day before the World Health Organization declared that the spread of the new coronavirus was now a pandemic, we published The Local’s free Covid blog.

At the time it was not much more than a short timeline of the outbreak in Sweden up until that point. But since then, it’s been one of our most important articles.

In the past two years, the blog has been read more than a million times, and it’s been the most-read article on the site almost every day. Despite being completely free to read, it has also been the most-read article among paying members – thank you for your feedback and support, it’s been invaluable.

We’ve kept the blog updated almost every weekday for the past two years, while also producing other, more in-depth, articles on everything from Covid vaccine passes, opinion pieces and our own readers’ stories about the issues you told us affected you.

Most of the blog updates have been done by myself or Catherine Edwards, followed by her successor Becky Waterton from October 2021. That’s not a huge team, so we’re grateful that our community of members of The Local makes our newsroom feel much bigger.

We started the blog mainly to keep readers informed about new infections and changes to restrictions, recommendations and testing rules.

But we’ve reached a new stage of the pandemic, and it feels like the blog has served its purpose.

Nearly all restrictions and guidelines have been lifted, data on new infections is harder to come by since Sweden stopped testing the general public on February 9th, and today the Coronavirus Commission set up to investigate Sweden’s pandemic response presented its final report. We’ve written about it here.

Today will also be the last time we update the blog. But the pandemic itself, its impact on people, and The Local’s coverage, are not over. Loved ones are still falling ill and dying, vaccinations are still vitally important, and Sweden’s non-EU entry restrictions are still in place until March 31st.

We’ll continue to cover all of those things in other articles. If you want an email alert every time we publish a major Covid-19 story, make sure to update your newsletter preferences here.

It’s now time for us to focus our resources on those articles, as well as continuing to investigate other issues that affect foreign residents’ lives in Sweden. With Russia’s war in Ukraine, Sweden’s upcoming election in September, and potential changes to Sweden’s migration laws, there’s no shortage of such issues.

This is my last day at The Local before I go on parental leave. Our correspondent Richard Orange will take over as editor while I’m gone. You’re always welcome to get in touch with him and Becky Waterton at [email protected] if you have any questions about life in Sweden, or any stories you think they should cover.

As always, thanks for reading,