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Health Officials: Avoid Holidaying Further than Two Hours from Umeå This Summer

Social services officials recommend against travelling far into the countryside this summer.

ÅLIDHEM – When planning summer vacations, Umebor — and all Swedish residents — should stay within two hours by car of home, public health officials have said. Taha Alexandersson, Deputy Emergency Response Manager at the National Board of Health and Welfare, told Dagens Nyheter today that if many people visit a rural area, its health care capacity might be overwhelmed.

“It depends on how small a region you have,” she said. “If you only have four intensive care places there, it is easy to reach the limit.”

“We don’t want any clusters of infections, or large groups of people getting sick,” she added.

Alexandersson was commenting on Prime Minister Stefan Löfven’s Wednesday declaration that travel up to two hours is safe, as long as holidaymakers stick to the usual coronavirus hygiene recommendations.

“Everyone should ask themselves whether, by their actions, they risk spreading the infection,” he told the newspaper. “How do I travel there? With whom do I spend time? How big is our party? How close are we to each other? And so forth.”

Up until now, the burden on Umeå’s health care system during the pandemic has been far below the limit, in terms of intensive care beds. Västerbotten has freed up 50 beds throughout the region for coronavirus patients, but the most required at any one time has been 13, on April 26 and 27.

Currently, only four coronavirus patients are in intensive care in the county, a number which has now been unchanged for four days. 12 coronavirus patients are in the hospital — a number also unchanged since yesterday — and twelve more were found in the past 24 hours to have the virus, for a total of 412 in the region, as Umeå’s new mass testing program takes effect.

The number of parents taking days off to care for sick children doubled during the pandemic.

Statistics show that at the height of the coronavirus crisis, double as many parents than in previous years, in Västerbotten, took VAB days — the abbreviation for Vård av barn, referring to days off from work that parents can request to take care of sick children. In April, the number of VAB days in Västerbotten was 31 thousand, twice what it was in 2019, according to Sveriges Radio. The VAB number peaked nationally in mid-to-late March, statistics from the Swedish Social Insurance Agency show. During that week, some 192 thousand parents took VAB days, compared to about 114 thousand for the corresponding week of the previous year.

National statistics for number of days taken off for child care. -Försakringskassan
Försakringskassan

Data is not yet available for May for Västerbotten, but nationally, VAB day totals have returned to normal this month, and indeed also since mid-April, which is when many experts now think that the coronavirus reached its peak burden on the health care system in Sweden. National health guidelines have said that if children have cough, throat pain, or cold symptoms, they should stay at home.

The Agency financially compensates parents who take VAB days, and paid out some 1.3 billion SEK nationally in April. When the national statistics were released, Agency Insurance Director Alexandra Wallin remarked, “We believe that the increase is mainly due to society increasing its caution and tolerance when a child is sick, during a pandemic.”

The Umeå Sky Diving Club has a new airplane to replace the one which crashed in July last year, killing all nine people aboard.

A new Cessna 206 is now parked at a hangar at Umeå Airport, the first plane belonging to the Umeå Sky Diving Club since its previous aircraft crashed into Storsandskär island in the Ume River, near Bergsboda. All nine people aboard died in that crash. An accident investigation commission has said that it believes it has determined the cause of the crash, but is waiting until July to release a final report.

It feels like you’re a child on Christmas Eve,” club member Peder Nyman told SVT. “I’ve been more emotionally moved than I would have thought.”

The airplane means much more than just something from which to sky-dive,” he said to Västerbottens-Kuriren. “It is a way of moving forward. We were in a vacuum bubble for a long period after the tragedy. Now we can start becoming active, with positivity and joy.”

The club says that delivery of the new plane was delayed by two months, due to travel restrictions during the coronavirus crisis. The Cessna was flown to Umeå from Switzerland, via Västerås, Sweden.

Last year’s plane crash was caught on video by an observer. It remains the only deadly plane accident in the history of Umeå Airport.

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