Sweden COVID death toll tops 12,000 as health agency warns of third wave

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STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Sweden plans to launch a digital coronavirus “vaccine passport” by summer, assuming there is an international standard in place for the document by then, the government said on Thursday.

Governments and developers around the world are exploring how such certificates could help to reopen economies by identifying those protected against COVID-19.

“When Sweden and countries around us start to open up our societies again, vaccination certificates are likely to be required for travel and possibly for taking part in other activities,” Swedish digitalisation minister Anders Ygeman told a news conference.

Denmark said on Wednesday that it would launch a first version of a coronavirus vaccination passport by the end of February.

Sweden, which has attracted global attention for its soft-touch pandemic response, registered 89 new COVID-19 related deaths on Thursday, taking the total above 12,000, Health Agency statistics showed.

With 12,028 deaths registered since the start of the pandemic, Sweden’s death rate per capita is many times higher than its Nordic neighbours, but lower than several European countries that opted for lockdowns.

New COVID infections in Sweden have decreased in recent weeks and the Health Agency said it had registered 3,758 new cases over the last 24 hours.

However, the number of people with the mutation first identified in Britain – which may be more infectious – has picked up and health officials said it was too soon to ease the rules.

“There is a high risk of a third wave if we are not resilient,” chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said.

“It shows a need for the restrictions we have in place to reduce the spread of infection.”

The government on Thursday extended its ban on alcohol sales after 8 p.m. and told public sector employees to work from home until May 31.

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