- Tegnell: national death toll “so large it becomes difficult to understand its scope”
- Umeå hospital nurse angry about citygoers not practicing social distancing
- New coronavirus protection guidelines for pregnant women announced
- City promises graduating students a good celebration, despite coronavirus cancellations
- Umeå-Lycksele train service reduced during pandemic
ÅLIDHEM – The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in Västerbotten surpassed 300 today to reach 303, and another death in the county was announced, bringing the total deceased to 15, according to regional officials. 19 coronavirus patients are in the hospital, with 11 in intensive care, the officials said. Yesterday, Västerbotten senior doctor Anders Johanssen predicted that the virus’s peak in Umeå — that is, the time when it puts the most pressure on the health care system — will be in early June. This is a revised estimate from two weeks ago, when it was predicted that the virus would peak in the city in mid-May.
Influential national epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said today that cases in Sweden were beginning to appear across the country more than before, instead of being centered in Stockholm. He pointed out the examples of the provinces of Halland and Värmland, in the southern half of Sweden, which until recently had seen a relative lack of confirmed infections.
Tengell said that it was not clear whether this shift was due to increased testing outside of Stockholm, or whether the disease was actually spreading more in the rest of Sweden.
“We have almost 2500 deaths in Sweden,” he said. “This is a very high figure that we have not seen for any other illness in a very long time.”
“The numbers are so large that it becomes difficult to understand their scope,” Tegnell added. “This is a virus that we must surely find ways to live with for an even longer time to come.”
Law enforcement today started investigating the case of a nurse at Stockholm’s Karolinska University Hospital who died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, on April 23. Prosecutor Jennie Nordin told TT that she wanted to know if the nurse had adequate protective equipment. Safety representatives at the hospital previously reported its failure to meet the requirements set down by Sweden’s national health authority to the police. Umeå University Hospital has said repeatedly that it has enough protective equipment for its staff, but nonetheless has been working on a number of projects with local organizations to help procure items such as protective smocks.
A nurse at Umeå hospital this afternoon chastized local residents for, as she claimed, overlooking national guidelines to prevent the spread of infection. Speaking to Sveriges Radio, Ida Björn said she recently became angry when she saw people sitting close to each other in the sun by the river.
“What a mockery this is to anyone who works in the health care sector,” she said, “when people ignore social distancing.”
New guidelines were laid out today for pregnant women to take extra precautions against contracting the coronavirus. The national health authority said that “especially towards the end of pregnancy and before childbirth, a late-stage respiratory infection can pose a risk to the mother.” Tegnell said the new guidelines were put into place because of information from clinical case studies of pregnant women in intensive care with coronavirus. Despite the guidelines, the authority said that pregnant women “generally do not have a higher risk than others of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19.”
Umeå teachers said this afternoon that they were not alarmed by the case of a schoolteacher in Skellefteå who died last week due to coronavirus. “It is certainly true that there are people in the schools with COVID-19,” city education director Ann-Christin Gradin told Västerbottens-Kuriren, “but there is no information on an extensive spread of infection.”
The president of the National Teacher Association, Umeå born-and-educated Johanna Jaara Åstrand, said that “it’s a terrible thing to experience” the death of a schoolteacher. “You cross a threshold, when a teacher is part of the death toll. All of this is tragic. The disease is killing people, and now it feels a little bit closer.”
Åstrand also said that “the whole organization is doing a fantastic job. Hats off to them. It’s in a crisis that you see how strong an organization we have.” The Skellefteå school, Kågeskolan, was shut down due to the death.
Gradin also expressed regret this afternoon that traditional graduation parties have been cancelled for secondary school students. “I greatly understand the disappointment and sadness among the students,” she said. “As far as possible, we will help to create a good graduation.”
The city said it is looking into alternative ways to celebrate the end of the school year.
Yesterday evening, the national education ministry forbade large graduation ceremonies. “There will be no gatherings or parades for an entire school,” said public health director Johan Carlson.
“I understand you are disappointed,” said Education Minister Anna Ekström. “You cannot celebrate with your friends and grandparents at your graduation.”
“You are adults now,” she added. “The same great, heavy responsibility rests on you as on other adults in society.”
Finally, Norrtåg, the Umeå train company, has announced it is reducing its services. Starting May 4, the Umeå-Lycksele line will have fewer daily departures, Norrtåg said, because of fewer passengers travelling during the pandemic. However, Norrtåg added that it will maintain trains at typical commuting times, in order not to affect people who depend on them for work travel.