- Battlefield helicopter transports patient from Skellefteå to university hospital
- 13 now dead in Västerbotten due to virus, as Umeå Prison inmates test positive
- Umeå Liberal Party says city lost “great opportunity” by not hiring restaurants to provide school lunches
- Student union and Bostaden clash over “collective punishment” in corridors
- How do you stop someone from sitting next to you on a city bus?
ÅLIDHEM – This morning the Swedish Air Force transported a patient to Umeå University Hospital for the first time in a helicopter uniquely equipped for coronavirus treatment. The patient was flown from Skellefteå Hospital in an NH 90, a battlefield helicopter originally developed for NATO missions.
“Västerbotten County has loaned us a specially-constructed stretcher, among other materials,” said doctor Helge Brändstrom, “which makes it possible to transport patients from hospital to hospital.”
Skellefteå has the most confirmed coronavirus patients per capita, regional officials revealed yesterday. Umeå Today asked a regional official why the patient was not treated in Skellefteå, but did not receive a response. Regional officials did tell Umeå Today that they have stopped releasing the locations and ages of coronavirus patients who have died in Västerbotten, and will only say how many have died each day. They announced one new death today, bringing the regional total to 13, with 273 confirmed cases total, 19 in the hospital, and 13 in intensive care.
Umeå Prison, in Ersboda, revealed today that two inmates there are infected with the coronavirus. More are suspected to be infected, Marie Tirén, a prison representative, told Västerbottens-Kuriren. “It is a difficult situation and above all increasingly stressful,” she said, “but I think the prison staff have been doing a good job.” The paper said that 11 prison employees have been sick and absent from work.
The Umeå inmates are two of nine nationwide who were found to have coronavirus after testing on Wednesday, the national government announced. Gustav Borg, an Umeå Prison spokesperson, said that when police arrive with new inmates who have the coronavirus, “they are separated and placed in their own rooms.” During the pandemic, the prison has banned in-person visitors, allowing them only to communicate with inmates by telephone.
Meanwhile, Umeå’s Liberal Party today called for more help from the city of Umeå to prevent local companies from going bankrupt due to the crisis. Group leader Peder Westerberg wrote that “the situation is very acute, and urgent efforts are needed now”, in an editorial in Västerbottens-Kuriren.
Westerberg criticized the city for providing secondary school students with meals cooked by school pantries, rather than restaurants. “They had a great opportunity to support local restaurants and cafes,” he wrote, “but the city instead chose their own solution.” Westerberg told Umeå Today three weeks ago of his support for the restaurant plan, but the city, whose council leaders are Social Democrats and Moderates, scrapped the idea shortly afterwards. The pantry-led free lunch program is scheduled to start on April 27.
The Umeå Student Union today reprehended Bostaden, the housing company which provides rooms and apartments for many university students. On Facebook, the union pointed to a Swedish Consumer Agency report which found Bostaden to be treating students unfairly — for example, by holding all the students in a corridor responsible if only one of them causes damage in a communal area. Bostaden denied to SVT that it engages in such collective punishment. The agency gave Bostaden until May 4 to explain how it is changing its policies, or to put itself at risk of not being permitted to lease to students. Students living currently in Bostaden housing would not be affected by such a loss of permission, SVT said. In late March, students in Bostaden corridors told Umeå Today that they were worried about the virus being transmitted easily in common areas like kitchens and hallways. Bostaden responded by sending Umeå Today a poster instructing students to wash their hands, and “do not expose each other to infection.”
Finally, Umebor are engaging in a long and detailed discussion, in Swedish, about how to stop other passengers from sitting next to them on a city bus, in order to avoid being infected with coronavirus. Suggestions include:
- Attach one meter long sticks to your hat with colorful balloons at the end.
- Put a bag on the seat next to you — even if there is nothing in the bag. (Or, “fill it with toilet paper — it doesn’t weigh much.”)
- Wear a reflective yellow vest with a sign that says, “If you can read this, you’re too close.”
- Say something that is “anything but rude”: Välj gärna ett eget säte, det finns lediga. (“Please choose your own seat — there are unoccupied ones.”)
- Give up and take the next bus.
The one thing that commenters warned against, however, was threatening to infect a fellow passenger with coronavirus. They suggested that this would violate Sweden’s Communicable Diseases Act. The conversation is being carried out on a Facebook group about life in Umeå.