Covid-19: Many people in Sweden ‘risk becoming infected in coming weeks’

Sweden's Public Health Agency on Thursday cut the quarantine period for those infected with Covid-19, to keep society running as more and more people catch the virus.

Covid-19: Many people in Sweden 'risk becoming infected in coming weeks'
Those testing positive on an antigen test no longer need to book a follow-up PCR test to confirm their results. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT

“We still have a very high spread of infection across the country, and we conclude that a large proportion of the population risk becoming infected in the coming weeks,” Sara Byfors, head of department at the Public Health Agency, told a press conference.

Citing difficulties experienced by some workplaces, who are struggling to function as usual given the high amount of staff absence due to quarantine regulations, the Public Health Agency announced changes to quarantine and testing rules.

The following groups of symptom-free household contacts are no longer required to stay home from school or work if a member of their household tests positive:

  • those who have received a booster vaccination
  • those who have been infected with Covid-19 within the last three months
  • some key workers, providing that other measures to avoid infection are taken

Note that this only covers staying home from school or work – these groups are still advised to avoid social arrangements or leisure activities where they are likely to meet other people.

Those who do not fall into these groups must quarantine for five days, starting from the day when the person in their household first started showing symptoms of Covid-19. This was previously seven days.

For those who are infected with the virus, quarantine has also been shortened to five days, as long as the person in question has been fever free and feeling well for at least the last 48 hours. This also applies to those who have not been able to get tested.

Children in preschool should still stay at home if new symptoms arise, and can go back to school once they are feeling well again.

Testing rules have also been updated, with testing now prioritised when there’s a medical need and for those working in healthcare and elderly care, as well as those who need to physically be at work and schoolchildren.

Other groups should stay at home until they feel well before returning to work.

Those who have taken an antigen test at home which has returned a positive result no longer need to book a PCR test to confirm infection. Those who have symptoms but tested negative on an antigen test should stay home for at least five days until they feel well again.

Screening with antigen tests is now recommended in some workplaces, such as healthcare services, and may be relevant in other sectors.

Byfors also underlined the importance of vaccination against Covid-19: “It’s important that vaccination efforts reach as many people as possible so that the consequences of the high rate of infection are limited as much as possible.”

Byfors specifically highlighted the importance of vaccination for pregnant women, stating that they have a higher risk than others of the same age of becoming seriously ill if infected with Covid-19, as well as complications which can occur if they become infected with Covid-19 during pregnancy. Vaccination against the disease also protects the unborn child from Covid-19.

“If you are pregnant, get vaccinated. It also protects the child – partly as you have less risk of being infected with Covid-19, and there is also a protective effect for some time after birth,” she said.

Member comments

  1. Why isn’t Sweden providing vaccinations for kids under 12?! Covid is running rampant in elementary schools and the children, who are often asymptomatic, are infecting their parents and grandparents. This strategy is absolutely baffling!

    1. How much you wanna bet it’s because Tegnell said something in his infinite wisdom of “recommendations”

      1. His mumbling, rapid speech brooking no interruption, shifting and drifting eye contact, and closed body language indicated long ago that Tegnell was following a script prepared by others, likely his former (anti-mask, anti-vax) epidemiological mentor, and the government. It is very sad for the people, who could have set off on the correct medical footing rather than being fed an ideology.

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Easter holidays: What to expect if you’re coming to Sweden in 2022

Tourism to Sweden has been limited for the past two years for obvious reasons, but visitors are starting to return. And those living in countries where Covid-19 is still a thing might be in for a bit of a surprise.

Easter holidays: What to expect if you're coming to Sweden in 2022

Sweden has throughout the pandemic had a relatively light-touch approach to Covid-19 restrictions.

But from the start of this month, the disease is no longer classified as a threat to public health or a critical threat to society, the two temporary laws the government brought in to give it more powers in the pandemic have expired, and the last remaining travel restrictions have been removed. 

Entry restrictions due to Covid-19

Sweden this month did away with its non-EU travel ban, so from April 1st, no traveller needs to show proof of vaccination, a negative test result, or any other Covid-related documentation, no matter what country they live in, are a citizen of, or are travelling from.

There is also no recommendation to get a Covid-19 test on arrival. There are still testing centres in the departure area for travellers flying outside of Sweden, but the testing stations on arrival at Stockholm Arlanda and Gothenburg Landvetter have closed down.

Welcome to Sweden! 

READ ALSO: Who can travel to Sweden now Covid-19 travel rules are lifted? 

Face masks 

From April 1st, it is no longer recommended to wear a face mask when in airports in Sweden, so if you prefer to wear one, you may find yourself almost alone. 

Some airlines, such as British Airways and EasyJet only require passengers to wear masks if the end destination requires them, so you may notice the difference as soon as you get onto your flight. Norwegian lifted its mask requirement for Scandinavia in February. Ryanair, however, is still asking passengers to wear masks on all flights.  

The Public Health Agency lifted its recommendation to wear face masks on public transport when crowded at the start of February, but even when masks were recommended, only about one in ten passengers wore them. 

Again, if you prefer to wear a mask on public transport, you will find yourself alone. 

What restrictions are there in public places? 

None. At the start of February, Sweden removed the recommendation for sports and cultural clubs from arranging big events and competitions indoors, which was the last such recommendation in place.

There are no restrictions whatsoever for festivals, concerts, nightclubs, theatre performances, and all other indoor and outdoor events with a large number of participants. 

Those who are unvaccinated, whether by choice or for medical reasons are advised to avoid crowded places and large indoor events. 

What if I get Covid-19 while in Sweden? 

Even if you do get Covid-19 symptoms when travelling in Sweden, you are no longer expected to go and take a test. The only people recommended to get tested are those that work in or are being treated by the health system, and those who care for the elderly, or live in a care home.

If you get Covid-19 symptoms while travelling within Sweden, by all means take an antigen test or quick test. The Public Health Agency recommends that you should avoid contact with others even if the rapid test is negative. 

This might be a problem when you have to get a flight back home, particularly if you live in a country which required a negative test before boarding your flight.