- Seven fewer people in hospital; 181 confirmed coronavirus cases, nine in intensive care
- Prime Minister: Sweden was unprepared for pandemic
- Västerbotten “Coronavirus Help” Facebook group matches people who need help with those who can give it
- Which Umeå stores and restaurants are open this weekend?
ÅLIDHEM – For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic arrived in Umeå, the number of infected people in hospital has decreased, regional officials said today. 22 people are hospitalized in Västerbotten, a drop of seven since yesterday. Nine are in intensive care. It is unclear how many of those nine are in Umeå University Hospital, as regional and national statistics contradict on this question. In total, 181 people in Västerbotten are reported to have a confirmed case of coronavirus.
“Sweden’s preparation was not good enough” for the coronavirus crisis, Prime Minster Stefan Löfven said today on SVT, adding that “this is obvious to everyone.” He said the blame for this unpreparedness falls on many different government parties over many decades, and that to try to rise up to the challenge of fighting the pandemic, “we have adopted a national security strategy that applies to everything from water and electricity supply, health care, and cyber security.”
Löfven refused to take a strong stance on the controversy over whether Sweden has been too lax in enforcing social distancing rules to stop the pandemic’s spread, and particularly its impact on the elderly, who are at high risk for serious complications from the virus. “I’m not going to go into a polemic about this now,” Löfven said. “I am fully focused on making sure that we stop transmission, that health care has the resources it needs, and that we cushion the economic effects on employees and companies.”
Umeå University virology Professor Fredrik Elgh has been notably critical of Sweden’s lack of a lockdown, telling Umeå Today earlier this month that in Västerbotten, it was “especially” in the urban area of Umeå that the infection was likely to spread.
National epidemiologist Andres Tegnell, who has been particularly influential in deciding Sweden’s coronavirus response, told the national news agency TT today that the country is actually not in as bad a health crisis as it may appear, compared to other countries. Sweden has reported a higher death rate than some European nations like Germany and Finland, but Tegnell explained that fact by saying that Sweden has been “more realistic” in reporting statistics, since national numbers on deaths due to coronavirus can be doublechecked against regional figures via patients’ social security numbers (personnummer).
“It’s hard to imagine that one could be better at finding cases than in Sweden,” he said. “So, we have a great track record.”
Meanwhile, Umeå residents, many of them at home practicing social distancing, have been turning to the Internet to find ways to help the city make it through the pandemic. A Facebook group “Coronaviruset Hjälpgrupp – Västerbotten” (Coronavirus Help Group – Västerbotten) rapidly expanded to almost 1900 members today. Members can ask for help, or give help, either “practically” or “socially”
Long comment threads show people offering help, for example:
- “Jag kan hjälpa praktisk med handling, ärenden till boende på Ålidhem.” (“I can practically help with shopping and errands for people living in Ålidhem.”)
- “Jobbar på Akademibokhandeln i MVG så kan även hjälpa till att byta Låna & Läs böcker eller om nån vill ha hemkörning av böcker/spel/pussel, etc.” (“I work at the bookstore Akademibokhandeln in shopping center MVG so I can even help to swap books for loaning and reading, or if anyone wants home delivery of books/games/puzzles/and so forth.”)
- ” Kan hjälpa inom Umeås kollektivtrafiks timmar! Erbjuder att fixa matlådor/baka också om det behövs” (“I can help anytime when Umeå’s public transport is running! I also offer food packages and baking, if that’s needed.”)
One of the group’s administrators, Samantha Suljic, told Umeå Today that people are “offering both practical help — such as grocery shopping, picking up homework, printing 3D visors, etc. — but also social help such as talking and comforting someone who’s worried or anxious or just needs someone to talk to.”
“We also welcome all new initiatives from companies that in some way want to help or ease everyday life for those in quarantine/in the risk group for COVID-19,” the disease caused by the virus, she said.
Suljic said that Umeå residents can help the project, “by joining the group and inviting their friends, using the poster that’s attached in the group to reach out to more people outside social media, or just by sharing this article with others.”
“If you or someone you know is in the risk group or in quarantine,” she added, “please don’t hesitate to reach out to us, we want you to know that there’s help to get and that we’re here for you. We can only defeat this together.”
The coronavirus face visor production project, run by Umeå University’s new Curiosum science center, has been using the Facebook group to gather more and more people to build and donate protective health equipment to the hospital. Umeå Today reported on April 3 that the Curiosum was making face visors with the help of residents who have 3-D printers. This afternoon, project member Manya Raman told Umeå Today that the campaign has now produced almost 300 visors.
The Curiosum, in cooperation with the city of Umeå, is now calling on the public to make covers for the sleeves of long-armed hospital gowns. The covers can be made out of plastic — including plastic bags — and rubber bands, Raman said.
Additionally, the Curiosum may soon be putting out a general appeal for people to sew cloth masks.
“I think Umeå has an untapped wealth of sewers,” said Raman. “Everyone can sew. So if we get green light from the hospital or old age homes or other people who need protection, it just remains to go out through social media, newspapers, etc. about what is needed.”
Finally, another Facebook group, “UMEÅ TIPSGRUPP”, is crowdsourcing a list of something quite important to most residents, but not publicly available anywhere: the opening times of stores, restaurants, and other establishments during the pandemic — and in particular over this spring holiday. Almost all are closed today, tomorrow, and Monday. However, here are some that are open, according to the group:
- Restuarant Vezzo on Vasaplan: regular hours
- Supermarket ICA Kvantum Mariehem: today and tomorrow 7:00 – 20:00, Monday 7:00 – 23:00
- Supermarket ICA Kvantum Kronoparken: today, tomorrow, Monday 7:00 – 23:00
- Candy store Godisgiganten Kronoparken: today and Monday 12:00 -20:00, tomorrow closed
- Shopping mall MVG, city center: tomorrow and Monday 11:00 – 16:00 generally (times vary for different stores and restaurants)
- Supermarket Coop City in MVG: today, tomorrow, Monday 8:00 – 20:00
- Supermarket Lidl Ålidhem: today 8:00 – 20:00, tomorrow 9:00 – 20:00, Monday 8:00 – 22:00
- Shopping mall Sagagallerian, city center: tomorrow closed, Monday 11:00 – 18:00 (some stores)
- Shopping mall Avion in Söderslatt: tomorrow, Monday 10:00 – 18:00
- Pet store Arken Zoo, Strömpilen: tomorrow closed, Monday 12:00 – 15:00
- Cafe Konditori Mekka, city center: tomorrow 10:00 – 17:00, Monday 10:00 – 18:00
- Yarn store Perssons Garn, city center: tomorrow closed, Monday 11:00 – 15:00
- Plant store Ekmans Handelsträdgård in Teg: tomorrow 10:00 – 16:00
- Swimming pool Navet in city center: tomorrow, Monday 08:00 – 16:00
The group is encouraging members to keep adding to the list.