- “I feel like I want to cry”: Umeå Hospital clinician
- No visitors permitted at elderly care homes starting tomorrow
- Västerbotten gives 25 million SEK to prop up economy; new initiative Local Hero Umeå supports city businesses
- IKSU clarifies confusion over supposed cancellation of classes
ÅLIDHEM – As Västerbotten officials announced this afternoon that the total number of confirmed coronavirus patients has risen to 57 — an increase of seven, the largest yet in a single day — they also said that among the infected are health care workers.
“Health personnel also live their lives outside clinics, and can be infected just like everyone else in the community,” said infectious diseases specialist Gunilla Persson. “We test a lot of personnel, and some are infected. They are isolated at home, just like all the others.”
Clinicians at Umeå University Hospital today expressed concern about their risk of infection at work. A source there told Umeå Today that “many of us healthcare workers have to accept the current situation, and some wards are being temporarily closed just to accommodate corona-suspected and corona-positive patients.”
“But almost nothing could be done to prevent more people getting infected,” continued the source. “It’s a bit frustrating here at NUS when it comes to Covid-19 cases. I feel like I want to cry because they don’t take this seriously.”
During a press conference today, Persson said, “When it comes to sampling for the coronavirus, it is mainly those who need hospital care that we test. But we also test staff, both in elderly care and other care.”
Among the 57 infected, 11 are in the hospital, and five are in intensive care, Persson said. Yesterday, the newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported that four of the five are in Umeå and one in Skellefteå, but has since removed that statistic from its website.
The region also announced today that it was building around 50 intensive care beds to prepare for growing numbers of coronavirus patients. 13 of the new beds would be in Umeå hospital, operations manager Johan Thunberg told Västerbottens-Kuriren. “Normally work like that takes months,” he said, “but right now we’re doing it in a couple of weeks.” Authorities said that statistically, they expect 35 Västerbotten coronavirus patients to need intensive care at any one point in the future.
The national government declared today that visits to nursing homes for the elderly would be forbidden across Sweden, starting tomorrow. Malin Sundbom, who manages nursing homes for the city of Umeå, told Umeå Today that “the government’s decision makes it easier for us to continue our work, with a ban on visits.”
The city had already decided on March 20 to ban visitors starting tomorrow. At the time, Sundbom said that “we understand that this is a sad message for many relatives, but we would not have made this decision if it were not necessary.”
Umeå’s business community today took further steps to try to keep itself stable through the crisis. Västerbotten County said this afternoon that it was allocating 25 million SEK to help small businesses during the pandemic.
“It is important that we do everything we can to support the county’s companies. We are united politically on that,” said Rickard Carstedt, head of Västerbotten’s Regional Development Committee. The money is intended to go to companies with between one and nine employees. It can be used, among other purposes, to pay salaries, consultancy for adapting to the crisis, and professional education to train workers to adapt to the rapidly changing economic situation. Anna Pettersson, the county’s Regional Development Director, called the allocation “a readjustment check”.
Umeå businesses are banding together to help each other during the crisis. Local Hero Umeå, an initiative to encourage residents to shop locally, has been gaining in popularity since being launched just under two weeks ago. “Together we are strong, together we will make it through the crisis,” the initiative says on its Instagram page.
Local Hero Umeå’s founder, sports communications company Zlingit CEO Tobias Gruffman, told Umeå Today that “the response has been good. There has been a lot of focus on restaurants and cafes in the press. I want, of course, to display the whole spectrum of Umeå’s business community. Last week, we went around to some companies, where we photographed and filmed, in order to spread their message about how grateful they are to all the customers who continue to shop there.”
“We want all the companies that make Umeå wonderful to be in good shape after the crisis,” said Gruffman.
Sports center IKSU clarified today what was interpreted by some members yesterday as a cancellation of Thursday classes. They are not cancelled, IKSU said, but rather it is switching over to a new computer system. “Right now we have limited opportunities to help you with questions regarding your membership,” IKSU wrote on its website. “From Thursday, April 2, we will be there to assist you again.”