Wednesday, December 2, 2020
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Röda Korset HQ Umeå

Infection Count Jumps to 47 as Umeå Red Cross Asks General Public for Help

• Expert Dr. Fredrik Elgh: virus is "probably everywhere ... especially in Umeå" • Red Cross needs volunteers to help elderly and at-risk populations • City bus schedules, routes change tomorrow, including closing of Magistervägen stop
  • Expert Dr. Fredrik Elgh: virus is “probably everywhere … especially in Umeå”
  • Red Cross needs volunteers to help elderly and at-risk populations
  • City bus schedules, routes change tomorrow, including closing of Magistervägen stop

ÅLIDHEM – The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in Västerbotten grew by five in the past 24 hours, to 47 total, national authorities said this afternoon. This matches the record for a single day’s increase, which was also five on March 17. The latest official figure, from yesterday, of the number in intensive care, is five.

Some evidence suggests that coronavirus rates might be relatively high in Umeå. Compared to other regions of Sweden, Västerbotten’s infection rate — that is, the number of confirmed infections per 100,000 persons — is slightly lower than average. The largest rates are in more densely-populated counties such as Stockholm and Östergotland, which contains Jönköping and Norrköping, as well as in rural Jämtland. However, coronavirus rates tend to be higher in cities than in the countryside early during a pandemic, NPR and many other media have reported. The coronavirus infection rate may therefore be considerably higher in Umeå than in more rural areas. On Thursday, Umeå Today reported that university students fear coronavirus is being spread in the tight quarters of shared corridors.

Umeå Today asked Umeå University virologist Professor Fredrik Elgh whether the rate in the city could be higher than in the rest of Västerbotten. “It is impossible to know precisely, since we only test sick people and hospital workers,” Elgh responded. “It is highly plausible that numbers are increasing, since we have the virus in [Umeå], and a number of hospitalized patients, including patients in intensive care.”

“The virus is probably everywhere in Västerbotten by now,” Elgh continued, “especially in Umeå and the ski resorts in the mountains.”

Health authorities are not releasing information identifying the precise places of origin of cases in Västerbotten. However, a group of professional and amateur statisticians are attempting to understand the spread of coronavirus in Sweden through a Facebook group, “Covid-19 – Statistical Collection” (“Covid-19 – Statistikinsamling”) which encourages people to report how they are behaving during the pandemic, and then maps their answers to their postal code. The group has almost 4,500 members. Its most recent map, of southern Sweden, showed people reporting symptoms primarily in clusters in cities, but also throughout the countryside.

Facebook group’s coronavirus map showing southern Sweden, with symptomatic patients in red. –Facebook

At Umeå University Hospital, coronavirus treatment and preparations have been straining resources further, according to a source who is a clinician there. In one case, the source said, after surgery, a patient had low hemoglobin levels — indicating not enough oxygen in his or her blood — but doctors did not perform a transfusion, the typical response to improve oxygen saturation in such circumstances.

Starting tomorrow, the source said, the hospital will cancel some elective surgeries.

“Some doctors here are waiting until the patients are literally dying,” said the source. “It’s frustrating to work here, because some doctors are downplaying the patients’ condition.”

Umeå Today will reach out to regional health authorities during the week for comment.

Meanwhile, of its program to enlist volunteers from the general public, in order to help those most at-risk from the infection. As Umeå Today reported based on a Västerbottens-Kuriren article earlier this week, the Red Cross is teaming up, on the project, with the Church of Sweden in Umeå and the city of Umeå’s Volunteer Center. The main task for volunteers is to deliver goods regularly to the homes of elderly people and those with serious underlying medical conditions. Other tasks include helping them to walk safely, and making social contact over the telephone. Volunteers must be healthy and not showing symptoms of coronavirus.

The Umeå Volunteer Center has published a presentation in English for non-Swedish speakers who would like to donate their time. As for people who are isolated at home or need help with shopping or walking safely, the Church of Sweden in Umeå has set up a hotline earlier this week for them to call to schedule services.

Tomorrow, Umeå’s bus network will change to summer schedules, as Umeå Today originally reported on March 18. Specific changes to the bus schedule include:

  • The Magistervägen bus stop will be eliminated; the nearest stop in service will be Ålidhem Centrum.
  • More frequent weekend traffic on line 5. Specifically, between Strömpilen and Vasaplan, 15-minute intervals from 10 AM and 5 PM, and between Ersmark and Vasaplan, 30-minute intervals until 8 PM.
  • Line 81’s route to Dragonskolan will change because of construction at Ridvägen.

In addition, the airport bus will no longer run a loop-shaped route around the city. Rather, it will only run to and from the city center, via Teg, according to signs posted by bus operator Länstrafik.

A sign at a bus stop indicating the new airport bus route. –Umeå Today

Currently, only about five flights are departing and about five arriving per day at Umeå Airport, all to and from Stockholm.

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