STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Sweden, which has shunned lockdowns throughout the pandemic, registered 2,820 new coronavirus cases on Oct. 28, the highest since the pandemic began and the third record number in a matter of days, Health Agency statistics showed on Thursday.
A steady rise in new cases has appeared to be gaining momentum in Sweden in recent weeks though the resurgence of the disease has come later than in wide swaths of Europe and not so far hit the kind of peaks recorded in countries such as France.
The increase compares with a record set only the previous day, a figure that was revised up to just over 2,400 cases on Thursday. The Health Agency has said the peak during the spring probably ran much higher but went unrecorded due to a lack of testing.
“We’re beginning to approach the ceiling for what the healthcare system can handle. Together, as during the spring, we can push down this curve and avoid the strain on healthcare,” Chief Epidemiologist Anders Tegnell told a news conference.
The Health Agency also moved to tighten pandemic recommendations for three additional regions, including Sweden’s biggest cities Stockholm and Gothenburg, saying infection rates were rising sharply in these areas.
Sweden has relied primarily on voluntary measures, largely uninforced but still widely adhered to. The new tighter local recommendations, already introduced in two regions with surging infections, included advice to avoid indoor environments such as shops and gyms.
Stockholm authorities said separately that the number of Covid-19 patients in need of care in the region had risen about 60% over the past week after a near 80% surge in recorded infections.
Sweden registered 7 new deaths, taking the total to 5,934. Sweden’s death rate per capita is several times higher than Nordic neighbours, but lower than some larger European countries, such as Spain and Britain.
(Reporting by Johan Ahlander; writing by Niklas Pollard; Editing by Simon Johnson)