Swedish region declares ‘personal lockdown’ as Covid cases surge above national average

Liam James
·2 min read
 (TT News Agency/AFP/Getty)
(TT News Agency/AFP/Getty)

Residents in one of Sweden's most densely populated areas have been told to enter a “personal lockdown” by the region's health authority.

In Uppsala county, neighbouring Stockholm, health authorities said people should “consider all human contact as a potential risk”, as Covid-19 cases in the region surge.

Dr Anders Tegnell, Sweden's state epidemiologist, told a press conference on Tuesday that the advice was understandable for Uppsala, where the case rate of 908 per 100,000 outstrips the national average of 772.

On Monday, there were 30 people in intensive care across Uppsala, the highest so far during the pandemic, according to regional authorities.

There have been no new laws or guidelines introduced, instead authorities said the “personal lockdown” message is intended to encourage a particular attitude.

“It is not the same as the formal shutdowns that have taken place in other countries, it's more about an approach,” said Johan Nojd, the region's infection control doctor.

Sweden has famously shunned the strict lockdowns imposed in most other countries, though the government has gradually brought in restrictions since the onset of the second wave in Autumn.

Uppsala is one of 13 Swedish regions with tighter restrictions. Residents are asked to wear a face mask on public transport and indoor public spaces such as shops.

In the other eight regions, face masks are only recommended on public transport during rush hour.

Like much of Europe, Sweden is currently experiencing a third wave of coronavirus infections, with cases rising sharply across the country since mid-March.

Dr Tegnell has resisted additional restrictions to fight the rise, claiming that closing bars, restaurants, gyms and non-essential shops would only have “an extremely marginal effect”.

The number of intensive care patients in Sweden hit 392 on Monday, surpassing that of the second wave's peak.

The country recorded 39 new deaths on Monday, taking the total to 13,660. The deaths registered have occurred over several days and sometimes weeks.

Sweden's death rate per capita is many times higher than that of its Nordic neighbours' but lower than in most European countries that opted for lockdowns.

Additional reporting by agencies

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