- Tegnell: Sweden’s rate of death is high because of “infection spread in nursing homes”
- Local officials fear home care workers and clients are transmitting virus
- 187 confirmed cases in Västerbotten; 19 in hospital
- Västerbotten football to continue despite worries about increased criminal gambling
- Umeå internet provider A3 sees 40% rise in traffic during pandemic
- Umeå Today reader reports increase in city center pedestrians
ÅLIDHEM – A home care worker — that is, a worker who takes care of people, often elderly, in their own home — was among the seven who died of coronavirus this past week in Västerbotten, a Skellefteå official said this afternoon, as Sweden’s leading epidemiologist criticized the country’s “failure to protect the elderly” from infection.
The man who died was in his 50s and worked at a location where coronavirus had already been found in clients, according to Peter Nässtrom, who heads home service operations for Skellefteå. “It is regrettable what happened, that a person who works for us has died,” he told Norran. “So incredibly sad.”
Nässtrom said that he was concerned about workers being infected by patients, but there is “above all a great deal of concern for the elderly.”
National epidemiologist Anders Tegnell at a press conference (pictured above) this afternoon echoed the fears that the virus is spreading rapidly among the elderly in Sweden, saying that the country has committed a “failure to protect” them.
Tegnell said that Sweden’s high rate of coronavirus-related deaths, relative to other Scandinavian countries, is due to the infection being spread in nursing homes, and added that their clients tend to be older than in many other countries, and therefore more vulnerable. “The population in nursing homes in Sweden is very fragile,” Tegnell said. “They have many diagnoses and are older.”
This comes less than a week after other authorities in Norrland expressed concern that the infection could be spread back and forth between home care workers and their clients. Last Wednesday, the chief safety officer of Kiruna municipality, Gunilla Eliasson, raised an alarm about home care staff not having protective equipment to stop the virus from spreading among staff and their clients. After one client was found to have the infection, Eliasson told SVT, “There was no protective clothing or masks. All they had was hand sanitizer. Now home care workers are worried that they are transmitting the infection to clients.” On the same day, officials announced that a nursing home in Umeå had a case of coronavirus.
Meanwhile, the count of confirmed infections in Västerbotten rose by five in the past day to 187, with 19 in the hospital, according to regional officials. The number in intensive care is uncertain because regional and national statistics differ; Västerbotten officials say there are nine patients in ICUs throughout the county, while the national Intensive Ward Registry says there are 12 in Umeå Hospital and five in Skellefteå.
Meanwhile, local police told Umeå Today this morning that “patterns of change” of fraud have occurred due to the pandemic — particularly among elderly victims. “It is still too early to draw any certain conclusions,” wrote Polis Nord spokesperson Malin Axroth, but “corona is being used in some types of fraud offenses, primarily aimed at older people.”
“The fact that more people spend more time at home also means an increased risk of being exposed to domestic crimes,” she added. “On the other hand, we think we can see that some other types of crime have decreased as a result of people’s changed patterns of movement, such as violent crimes linked to the pub,” she continued.
Yesterday, Umeå Today published the results of its investigation of recent police records, showing that almost no violent crimes had been reported in the city since the pandemic first arrived in early March.
The Västerbotten Football Federation has announced that it will continue its games, despite the fact that more threats and bribes are being reported towards Swedish teams during the pandemic. This is thought to be due to the cancellation of football games around much of Europe, and so internet gamblers have turned to bet more on Swedish sports. An official at gambling regulator Svenska Spel, Dan Korhonen, told Expressen earlier this month that “we see criminal networks targeting Sweden. We also see that criminal networks in Sweden are becoming more active. It is an effect of coronavirus.”
Football leagues in other parts of the country, such as in Västergötland and Halland, have postponed their seasons for various reasons connected to the pandemic.
The Västerbotten Football Federation recommended this weekend that fans watch its matches online rather than in person, to try to prevent coronavirus spread.
While other sports and many types of companies have been hit hard by the pandemic, one industry is thriving — internet providers, including A3, which is based in Umeå. Product Manager for Broadband, Niklas Karlberg, told Umeå Today this morning that internet usage among customers has increased by almost 40%. He said there was “a gradual and steady increase in data traffic in our network” since the government recommended that people work from home when possible.
“What we normally call peak time, between 6 PM and 10 PM, slowly stretched itself to between 8 AM and 10 PM,” Karlberg said, adding, “we get a chance to contribute a socially important resource when it is needed most.”
Finally, Umeå Today reader Lacey Okonski reported that pedestrian traffic is increasing in the city center. “There seemed to be a lot more people out and about”, she wrote. Okonski sent a photo with the view from high above Renmarkstorget at around midday. “It’s not a terribly exciting picture,” she wrote, “but it’s been a steadier flow than usual. I was wondering if some social distancing measure had been relaxed.”
“I noticed because my four year old was yelling ‘Oh no! They are spreading the coronavirus!'” Okonski added.