Sweden has registered 17,395 new cases of covid-19 since Friday, bringing the total since the beginning of the pandemic to rise above 500,000. At the same time, hospitals are struggling to cope with the second wave of the virus, Reuters says, based on statistics presented by the Swedish health authority this Tuesday.
December 17 was the deadliest since the beginning of the pandemic, with 116 deaths, which surpassed the 115 registered in April, the previous peak. At the same time, more people are being assisted in Swedish hospitals than at any previous point in the pandemic.
Although there is still an extra capacity of 20% to accommodate patients in hospitals, there is growing concern that the spread will accelerate, at a time when the population returns to work and schools, after the festive season of Christmas and New Year.
“It is very obvious that the health system is overburdened at the moment (as in the spring),” said the country’s leading epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell. “We are close to the limit of what the health system is capable of supporting”, he concluded.
Tegnell was also the architect of the strategy that led Sweden to try to avoid confinement, contrary to what was the rule in the rest of Europe and the world. A December survey shows that the Swedish population is less confident about policy options, with only 47% – compared to 53% the previous month – saying they have a high or relatively high confidence in the government and its agencies.
The death rate in Sweden is several times higher than that of the Nordic neighbors, although it is still below some of the European countries that have opted for confinement.
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