STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Sweden registered 752 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, the highest daily rise since June, Health Agency statistics showed, the latest in a steady rise in infections in recent weeks after months of limited spread during the summer holiday season.
Sweden, which has been a European outlier in its avoidance of lockdowns and reluctance to recommend face masks, has so far not seen the kind of dramatic increase experienced in countries such as France and Spain and hospitalisations remain at low levels.
Deaths from COVID-19 have also slowed to a trickle with not a single new fatality being recorded on Thursday. However, the rise in daily cases was the highest since June 30, when Sweden registered just over 800 new cases.
Chief Epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, the architect of a soft-touch pandemic strategy aimed at limiting rather than eradicating the disease, said the upturn in cases was primarily linked to young people and outbreaks at work places.
“It’s very unevenly spread across Sweden, hitting different parts of the country to varying degree,” he told a news conference. “Stockholm once again accounts for a very large part of the new cases in Sweden.”
Sweden’s coronavirus strategy has largely been based on making recommendations and getting information out to the public, leveraging people’s high level of trust in national and local authorities and eschewing legal mandates as far as possible.
In a new set of recommendations, people living with somebody suffering from COVID-19 should self-quarantine for a week to avoid spreading the disease at their places of work, but children should continue to attend school, Tegnell said.
Sweden has registered 5,893 deaths among COVID-19 patients, a per capita fatality rate that is several times higher than its Nordic neighbours but lower than countries like Spain, Italy and Britain that opted for lockdowns.
(Reporting by Niklas Pollard; Editing by Johan Ahlander and Frances Kerry)