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Coronavirus curve April 4
Coronavirus curve April 4

100 Cases Reported in Västerbotten as Scientists Wonder Why None Has Died

• "It's probably just a matter of time": leading doctor • Carlshem health clinic to open separate coronavirus reception • Litter and vandalism surge as Umeå streets lose pedestrians
  • “It’s probably just a matter of time”: leading doctor
  • Carlshem health clinic to open separate coronavirus reception
  • Litter and vandalism surge as Umeå streets lose pedestrians

ÅLIDHEM – 100 people in Västerbotten are now confirmed to have coronavirus, regional officials this afternoon told Västerbottens-Kuriren, with eight in intensive care. Umeå Today has not been able to confirm this figure, as it contradicts statistics from Sweden’s national health agency, which has documented 97 cases with nine in intensive care, including six in Umeå University Hospital.

So far, no patients are reported to have died in Västerbotten. The death rate for Sweden is 5.84% for people with Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, according to the World Health Organization. Statistically, then, Umeå coronavirus patient outcomes are trending towards improbably favorable. 373 people have died in total in Sweden, mostly in the more heavily-populated south of the country.

Scientists are unsure why no one has died yet in Västerbotten. “We are a few weeks behind southern Sweden in that respect,” Sofie Jacobsson, head doctor for crisis preparation in Västerbotten, told Umeå Today. “It’s probably just a matter of time before Västerbotten will have a Covid-19-related death.”

Other regions of the north have seen coronavirus deaths: Gävleborg four, Västernorrland two, and Norrbotten one.

Last night, Norrlandskliniken, a health clinic in Carlshem, said that it was opening a separate reception area for suspected coronavirus patients. The area will have 11 reception rooms and should be open in about ten days, the clinic said.

Meanwhile, Umeå is seeing a marked increase in litter and vandalism as the crisis grows and ever fewer pedestrians walk the streets. Outside of “environmental houses” (miljöhus), small buildings where residents deposit trash and recycling around the city, unwanted debris is piling up and blowing in the wind. Often, people scavenge for discarded furniture in these locations, but this appears to have stopped, leaving larger and larger collections of garbage.

Unwanted items piled up outside an environmental house in Ålidhem. -Umeå Today

More and more litter is also appearing in parks, at bus stops, and in grassy areas along sidewalks. During a walk through the city center this afternoon, bottles and food wrappers could be seen around and atop trash cans. At Ålidhems Centrum, rubbish was strewn next to the sidewalk near Klossen.

Litter in shrubbery along the sidewalk in Ålidhems Centrum. -Umeå Today

Dylan Stiegemeier, head of Umeå environmental group The Theodores, told Umeå Today that “a lot of the trash comes when the snow melts or garbages overflow or are not emptied.”

Far-left political organizations and graffiti taggers (klottare) seem to be using the depopulated streets as a chance to be unseen when they post messages, or spray-paint their nicknames, on surfaces around the city. A noticeable increase in vandalism has appeared over the course of the week. A large black tag was drawn on a privately-owned building across from Umeå East train station sometime in the past few days.

Large graffiti tag spray-painted across from Umeå East train station. -Umeå Today

The Revolutionary Communist Youth Umeå (RKU), an organization which does not have a press contact person and replies anonymously to enquiries, boasted last week on Facebook about putting up posters on housing company Bostaden’s property, which is against its regulations. New “RKU” graffiti has also cropped up in the past few days in the city center.

New Revolutionary Communist Youth graffiti in the city center. -Umeå Today

On a recycling bin in front of a church, new painted graffiti tags have surfaced, along with a sticker reading “All possible greetings – Yours, Lenin.”

Graffiti tags and a political sticker on a recycling bin in front of a church in the city center. -Umeå Today

The type of paint usually used in graffiti tagging has been identified by government bodies as toxic to the environment and likely to seep into the water supply. The city says that in spring weather, it cleans off tags within 48 hours of appearing on its property. This has not, however, been the case during the coronavirus crisis.

Steigemeier said that if there is more graffiti tagging in Umeå, “it might be due to less people out and about.”

However, Steigemeier said, the coronavirus crisis may also be having positive environmental effects. “One of the interesting things will be to see how much global pollution decreases,” he suggested, “with the economic machine slowing around the world.”

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