SWEDEN is finally set for a harsh lockdown as the government has asked for the power today to close shops and gyms amid a surge in Covid cases.
Sweden hasn’t opted for the kind of lockdown adopted by many other European nations.
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It has suffered many times more Covid-19 deaths per capita than its Nordic neighbours, with the total reaching almost 7,300 today.
Stockholm and the surrounding region are among the areas hardest hit with 2,836 deaths.
Infection rates are picking up again after a drop in the summer and autumn, and intensive care wards are now full.
“We need help,” Bjorn Eriksson, the director of healthcare for the Stockholm region, told a news conference.
There were 814 Covid-19 patients being treated in Stockholm hospitals and geriatric wards on Wednesday, up from 748 last Friday.
That compares with around 1,100 patients during the spring outbreak of the disease.
Mr Eriksson said 83 patients were treated in intensive care in Stockholm.
“That corresponds more or less to all intensive care beds we normally have,” he said.
Faced by a surge in new cases in recent weeks, Sweden’s government has tightened restrictions on public gatherings while high schools have been told to switch to distance learning for the rest of the term.
The government said today that it wanted parliament to grant it more power to implement lockdown measures such as closing shopping malls and gyms.
The new rules are planned to be introduced on December 14, The Local reported.
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So far, however, measures have mostly been voluntary and media have been full of pictures of crowded shopping streets in the run-up to Christmas.
Mr Eriksson called for stricter adherence to the government’s guidelines to help relieve the pressure on the healthcare system.
“Enough is enough. It simply cannot be worth it, to have after-work drinks and hustle of Christmas present shopping… The consequences are horrible,” he said.