- Umeå’s peak to follow Stockholm’s, experts say
- 209 confirmed infections, with 22 in hospital
- Sweden prolongs ban on people entering from outside Schengen area
- University breaks record for fall applications amidst coronavirus unemployment
- Umeå microbiologists develop test for a person’s resistance to the virus
ÅLIDHEM – Västerbotten health officials said this afternoon that they expect the coronavirus pandemic to peak in the region in mid-May, which, they said, matches predictions from the national government. An Umeå mid-May peak is also consistent with a widely-cited University of Washington study showing that Sweden’s general peak should be around May 8, and that Stockholm, the hardest hit part of the county, is further along the coronavirus curve than other places. This would mean that Umeå should, indeed, see its peak after Stockholm.
At the peak, officials said, they plan to have 50 intensive care beds available for patients, double the normal amount. However, they refrained from saying how many total coronavirus cases they expect to have confirmed by mid-May.
The number of reported confirmed infections in the region crossed the 200 threshold today, to 206, 22 of whom are in the hospital. The region said that nine of them are in intensive care, but national statistics put that number at 18, with 12 in Umeå University Hospital. Västerbotten officials have told Umeå Today that the national statistics lag behind the regional ones.
Västerbotten’s death total remained steady today, at eight total. Yesterday, officials reported the eighth death.
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven announced this afternoon that Sweden is extending its ban on anyone entering the country from outside the Schengen area. Exempt from the ban are EU citizens, and particularly important travellers such as agricultural workers.. Asked about how long the restrictions will last, Löfven said, “it is better to adjust mentally to months, not weeks.”
“Even though the sun is shining and you had to give up your Easter holiday,” he said, “it is not time to celebrate May 1,” which is International Workers’ Day, also a holiday in Sweden.
“For the rest of our lives,” he added, “we will remember spring 2020 as the time we all shared burdens and made sacrifices for each other.”
Yesterday, Umeå Today reported that some university students and employees are unable to leave the country — or come back — because of coronavirus restrictions.
The university announced this afternoon that it had a record high number of applications for the autumn, due in part, officials said, to workers losing jobs because of the pandemic. Some 77 thousand people sought a place in a class or a degree program — 10 thousand more than last year.
“I think it is a reaction to uncertainty in some industries right now,” said Deputy Vice Chancellor Heidi Hansson. “It’s great that the university can be an alternative at a time when the economy feels unstable.” Yesterday, the government announced hundreds of millions of SEK in new funding for universities.
The university also said this morning that a group of its biomedical researchers has developed a test for coronavirus antibodies. They say that this test is an improvement over those created elsewhere, which are currently in use at the university hospital.
“It is an advantage if we can have access to our own, good test, at home, rather than relying on tests of varying quality that have been available so far,” said Professor Clas Ahlm of the Institute for Clinical Microbiology.
The researchers cultured a special viral protein which can detect whether a person has antibodies in their blood to the coronavirus. The presence of such antibodies is a sign of infection. It is also a sign that a person is resistant to being re-infected by the virus, the scientists hypothesize.
“We have now confirmed that antbodies from patients with COVID-19,” the disease caused by the infection, “effectively prevent the virus from entering the cells,” said Associate Professor of Virology Anna Överby Wernstedt.
Researchers said it took them less than a month to develop the test, and that they are already evaluating and adapting it for use at the university hospital.