Sweden takes more COVID measures as Omicron squeezes healthcare

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STOCKHOLM, Jan 10 (Reuters) – Sweden will introduce more measures to stem the rising number of COVID cases and an increased pressure on the healthcare system, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said on Monday.

“The situation has deteriorated, without doubt. The level of infections in Sweden is at a historically high level,” Andersson told a news conference.

The new measures include a work from home mandate where possible and a cap on the number of people allowed at public events.

Restaurants will have to close at 2300 and guests will have to be seated and in groups no bigger than eight people. Adults are also being asked to limit social contacts indoors.

The measures will be evaluated after two weeks, but are expected to be in place for at least four weeks.

While COVID infections have soared, hitting a new record last week, the number of people hospitalized as a result remains well below the peaks encountered in previous waves. The number of new deaths has also been comparatively low.

More than 1,000 patients are being treated in hospital for COVID and roughly 100 of them are in intensive care units.

The strain on healthcare is being exacerbated by spread by other respiratory viruses and staff shortages, the National Board of Health and Welfare said.

Reporting by Johan Ahlander and Simon Johnson

Photo – Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson presents a series of new COVID-19 restrictions during a press conference in Stockholm, Sweden, 10 January 2022. The new rules will come into force on 14 January. EPA-EFE/MARKO SAAVALA

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