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Umeå Coronavirus Press Conference March 18

General Spread of Coronavirus in Västerbotten Suggested by Two New Cases; Shopping Centers, Buses, Factories Reduce Services

- Three patients in the hospital, one in intensive care; unknown how disease was spread - Utopia, MVG, Avion shrink opening hours; city buses to reduce service by 30%; Volvo factory to pause production; all secondary schools move online - Refused postpones Umeå spring concert until October - Västerbotten appeals to nursing students to volunteer to support health care system
  • Three patients in the hospital, one in intensive care; unknown how disease was spread
  • Utopia, MVG, Avion shrink opening hours; city buses to reduce service by 30%; Volvo factory to pause production; all secondary schools move online
  • Refused postpones Umeå spring concert until October
  • Västerbotten appeals to nursing students to volunteer to support health care system

ÅLIDHEM – Doctors have identified two more coronavirus carriers in Västerbotten since yesterday, bring the total number of cases to 20 in the region, local health officials said in a press conference this afternoon. Among the 20, three are now in Umeå University Hospital, with one in intensive care. This the first report so far of a Västerbotten coronavirus patient being in intensive care. Infectious diseases specialist Gunilla Persson said that in one particular case, the means of transmission is unknown, and that “this could be an indication of general person-to-person infection” in Västerbotten, which doctors had hitherto not observed for certain.

The University Hospital said today that it temporarily ran out of hand sanitizer yesterday, but regional emergency coordinator Caroline Helmersson said that the hospital has acquired enough again, and “hopefully for the future”.

Various shopping centers in Umeå have started reducing their opening hours due to the coronavirus. Here are the new hours:

  • Utopia: 11 AM to 6 PM Monday to Friday, 11 AM to 4 PM on Saturday, closed Sunday.
  • Avion: 11 AM to 6 PM Monday to Friday, 11 AM to 4 PM on Saturday and Sunday.
  • MVG: 11 AM to 6 PM Monday to Friday, 11 AM to 3 PM Saturday, and closed Sunday.

Västerbottens-Kuriren is reporting that Länstrafiken i Västerbotten, which provides bus service in Umeå, is planning to reduce services about 30%, moving to summer timetables starting March 30. Harriet Söder, CEO of Länstrafiken, is quoted as saying that “we lack drivers for all journeys” and that priority would go to public transit which healthcare staff use to get to work.

Volvo said today that it is closing its Umeå plant starting this coming Monday. The company said that “it is likely the closure will last until April 6”. This is due to the fact that “subcontractors in France and the rest of Europe are closed”, so the factory is not receiving deliveries. Volvo said it is currently in negotiations about how this will affect salaries, and it expects more clarity on the issue on Friday.

Umeå Energi announced today that as many of its employees would be working from home as possible, to help prevent them from getting infected. Press representative Johanna Mattsson said the virus was an “imminent risk” which “could affect Umeå Energi’s ability to maintain services essential to the community”, such as electricity, heating, and broadband internet.

The City of Umeå also announced today that gymnasium secondary, technical high school, and adult secondary education would be moved online, with no teaching physically at the schools. The school buildings would not close, however, and students “who need help with technical support, to loan books, or meet with personnel” would be allowed to visit schools as usual. Gymnasium distance education will start immediately, and adult education will change over “at the pace that technical solutions allow”.

World-touring Umeå punk band Refused has postponed its March 28 concert until October 3, the Västerbottens-Kuriren says based on a press release from Umeå city administrators. The band’s website lists no more performances until May 20. Meanwhile, Norrlandsoperan star Joa Helgesson cancelled her planned lunchtime performance from the opera hall’s balcony today, because she woke up with a sore throat, according to Västerbottens-Kuriren.

Umeå Today has obtained a text message, ostensibly from the Västerbotten County Council, to nursing students, announcing a “need for support and various efforts”. Students who were interested in volunteering to help out were encouraged to contact the county. The university also clarified today the status of education for students studying clinical health. Clinical placements are to continue as planned if “supervisors permit and student supervision can be ensured”. Students in clinical placements are required to follow the same rules regarding coronavirus as other public employees. Yesterday, Umeå University announced that all teaching would be changed to distance education and that all facilities are closed to students, except for Lindellhallen, the libraries, and the Universum.

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