After shunning lockdowns, Sweden now says its coronavirus situation is 'very serious'

Sweden controversially pursued a light-touch response to the pandemic during its summer months.

epa08795278 Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven speaks during a news conference on the coronavirus  (Covid-19) pandemic situation at the government headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden, 03 November 2020.  EPA/Jessica Gow SWEDEN OUT

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven speaks during a news conference Source: TT News Agency

Sweden says a maximum of eight people will now be allowed to dine together at restaurants or cafes, as the country faces a sharp rise in coronavirus cases and deaths.

"We see that the situation is heading in the wrong direction - the situation is very serious," Prime Minister Stefan Lofven told a press conference on Tuesday.

He added that more patients were being treated in intensive care units for severe cases of COVID-19, and it was likely that fatalities would rise.

One in five patients receiving intensive care was a COVID-19 patient, added Lena Hallengren, Sweden's minister of health and social affairs.

Another indication of the rising caseload was that three more Swedish regions on Tuesday advised residents to refrain from visits to shopping centres, museums, libraries, swimming pools and fitness centres.

Sweden has drawn international attention for shunning lockdowns throughout the pandemic.

Cases in the Nordic country have risen sharply in recent weeks, repeatedly hitting daily records last week.

The country of 10.3 million has had about 134,500 infections and 5,969 coronavirus-related deaths in total.

Other new advice unveiled on Tuesday was to avoid public transport and to work from home where possible and for people to avoid meeting with others outside their own household.

The recommendations now apply for seven in 10 people in Sweden, Mr Lofven said.

"We have a long and tough winter ahead of us. It is necessary that we all do our utmost to stem the spread of infection," said Johan Carlson, head of the Swedish Public Health Agency.

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2 min read
Published 4 November 2020 at 5:57am
Source: AAP, SBS