- 2nd death in city; 169 infections confirmed, 29 in hospital, nine in Umeå intensive care
- National health authorities: self-isolate if you have stomach problems
- Leaked hospital document: older patients less likely to be assigned to intensive care
- Beloved Umeå police dog mourned after being killed by another dog
- How did an Ersboda car rack up 70 000 SEK in fines?
ÅLIDHEM – The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Västerbotten has reached 169, with 29 in hospital. 12 are in intensive care, nine of them in Umeå University Hopsital. Additionally, regional officials today announced another death from coronavirus in the hospital. The patient, in his or her 70s, died yesterday, and was in the intensive care unit.
This brings the total death count in Västerbotten up to five. Yesterday, the first person in Umeå died due to complications from coronavirus.
National officials this afternoon added new symptoms to the list of those that should require a person to self-isolate: gastrointestinal problems and nausea. Until now, officials had only mentioned fever, coughing, blocked nose and sore throat — which remain on the list. The practical effect of this decision is that citizens with stomach distress are strongly recommended not go out in public.
“Everybody in Sweden has a responsibility to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said Karin Tegmark Wisell, Director of the Department of Microbiology of the Swedish Public Health Agency.
“Be careful in public — especially in places where several people meet,” she said. “Abstain from parties, baptisms and funerals.”
This advice about baptisms and funerals comes shortly after Ulrika Ljungblahd, a spokesperson for the Swedish Church in Umeå, told Västerbottens-Kurriren that seven marriages and 24 baptisms in the city were cancelled or postponed between March 1 and April 7.
Officials also estimate that approximately 2.5% of the population of Stockholm has now been infected with coronavirus, and revealed that it was spreading at a faster rate there than anywhere else in the country.
The Foreign Ministry also recommended this afternoon against all unnecessary travel to foreign countries until at least June 15, at which point new advice will be given.
A document at Sweden’s most prominent hospital, listing conditions by which doctors should judge who is ineligible for intensive care, was published today by Dagens Nyheter.
The document was reportedly sent internally at Karolinska University Hospital, and gives guidelines for doctors, should they need to decide between patients who all need care when there are limited spaces in the intensive care unit.
Anyone over the age of 80, or aged between 60 and 80 but with significant failure in one or more organ systems, will not be considered for intensive care treatment, in the event of limited spaces, the document said.
Bjorn Persson, the head of operations for intensive care at Karolinska Hospital told Dagens Nyheter, “it is extremely important that we use our resources for the patients we believe have the greatest chance of surviving and benefiting from intensive care.”
Umeå Today has reached out to officials at Umeå University Hospital to see whether these guidelines are also being used there, and is still awaiting a response.
Additionally today, Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s national epidemiologist and perhaps the country’s most influential health official during the pandemic, told TV4’s Nyhetsmorgon that he expected some restaurants which are not taking necessary precautions against coronavirus to be shut down soon — particularly in Stockholm, where, he said, too many restaurants have crowded seating.
“It may be necessary to close restaurants and pubs, that do not take the threat of coronavirus seriously, very soon.” he said. “It’s probably already happening this weekend.”
Västerbotten Governor and former Umeå University Director Lars Lustig today gave his thoughts about Sweden’s controversial strategy of handling the coronavirus in a letter published in Västerbottens-Kuriren. Sweden is one of the few European nations that has not imposed a national or partial lockdown to prevent the spread of the disease.
“Sweden’s choice of path is based on an inclusive political idea of everyday freedom in exchange for individual responsibility,” he wrote. “This road, with a respectful interaction between politics and expert authorities, has worked well so far.”
“In addition, many of the measures now being taken [in the EU] are about circumventing democratic freedoms and rights. Some feel that the democratic system is far too ‘slow’ to deal with these types of crises; this is an attitude I see as worrying.”
He also discussed how the crisis had the ability to bring out the best and worst of people.
“At one end, we see all those who are struggling heroically and unselfishly in hospitals and the elderly, volunteers who want to make a difference,” he wrote. “At the other end, we see people who profit from the fear of others, people who spread rumors and fake news, and self-proclaimed ‘corona commissioners’ (coronakommissarier) who claim the right to blame people who do not do exactly what they think they should do.”
He concluded the letter by “expressing my deepest gratitude to everyone in our county who is working on dealing with the consequences of the crisis, and contributing to a society which is functioning as well as it still is.”
“In Västerbotten,” he wrote, “we have a tradition of tackling challenges and trials together, and finding common ways forward. We will do that this time as well. Thanks to all of you who contribute.”
Umeå’s religious leaders have been contextualizing the coronavirus pandemic within the Christian Holy Week, of which today, Good Friday (långfredagen), is a central celebration.
Umeå Hospital Chaplain Gustav Ericsson earlier this week told Umeå Today, ”Even in the darkness of Good Friday, the message of Christ’s Church continues to be the light of the empty tomb.”
“May we come together and rise to this challenge as one human family, and let us lean into that light,” he concluded.
Pär-Anders Feltenheim, a priest at Umeå’s Catholic Church, also wrote to Umeå Today about the importance of hope during the pandemic.
“God has not abandoned us,” he said, “but He is with us in suffering and turmoil. We are called to grow in confidence to him. Even if we do not know how the world is developing in the near future, God wants to instill hope in us as we now celebrate that he has won over the suffering and death when he arose from the dead.”
A pastor at Umeå’s Pentecostal Church (pingst kyrkan), Ulf Sundkvist, published a letter to the editor of Västerbottens-Kuriren also putting coronavirus in the context of the Christian Holy Week.
“In Umeå, people are gathering together forces, in preparation of what they fear is going to happen, to a remarkable degree. We ought not even think about shaking hands. And the economy is on the way to catastrophe,” wrote Sundkvist.
“But I don’t see fear and anxiety, ” he added. “Compassion and solidarity have become more than just beautiful words. They have become flesh and blood, something concrete, present in our ordinary dwelling places.”
In non-coronavirus related news: dozens of Umeå residents are mourning the death of a police dog who sustained injuries from a fight with another dog from the same household. The dog, called GunNarc, was being cared for by the Hopstadius family, who described their grief in a public Facebook post.
“There are people who’ll say it’s ‘just a dog.’,” the post read. “To say ‘just’ about a creature that became so close to us, about a tail that strikes the floor at the smallest joy, about a nose that confidently nestles in our hands, about two eyes that hold worlds of trust and affection. For us, this was a dear family member, and we deeply mourn what happened.”
Meanwhile, local police revealed this morning that they have found a car, abandoned in a Ersboda ditch, that has accumulated more than 70 000 SEK in motor vehicle fines. The police say they have towed the car, and the owner will only be able to claim it back once the penalties have been paid. It remains unclear how exactly the car ended up collecting such an enormous total in fees.