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Two More Västerbotten Coronavirus Deaths, but Infection Count Stabilises

• Total deaths now seven; 182 confirmed cases, 23 in hospital, eight in intensive care • Pinchos, Red Bull team up to deliver holiday meals to Umeå hospital staff • Churches largely empty at Easter: see an immersive 360 degree VR photo • Muslim prayer rooms closed ahead of Ramadan • What activities can you do in Umeå during coronavirus? Here's a long list!
  • Total deaths now seven; 182 confirmed cases, 23 in hospital, eight in intensive care
  • Pinchos, Red Bull team up to deliver holiday meals to Umeå hospital staff
  • Churches largely empty at Easter: see an immersive 360 degree VR photo
  • Muslim prayer rooms closed ahead of Ramadan
  • What activities can you do in Umeå during coronavirus? Here’s a long list!

Two more deaths from coronavirus in Västerbotten were announced today by regional officials, bringing the total number in the region to seven. Both patients died in Skellefteå, one in his or her 70s yesterday in the hospital, the other in his or her 90s, receiving home nursing care, on Friday. Both had underlying medical conditions.

The total infection count in Västerbotten stabilised over the past 24 hours, however, as only one new case of coronavirus was confirmed today in Västerbotten, for a total to 182, with 23 in hospital and eight in intensive care. Infectious disease specialist Gunilla Persson hypothesized on SVT that the lack of confirmed cases is due to people not choosing to get tested on a holiday weekend.

“It may be that if you are sick and at home, you decide not to seek out a test because it is Easter,” she said, ”but it is [still] important to check, if you have breathing difficulties”.

She also mentioned that a lack of staff in testing tents could be to blame for the small number of cases confirmed today. She added that she could not say for sure that there were no new cases in nursing homes.

“No one has contacted us about anyone who has fallen ill in housing for the elderly (äldreboende),” said Persson. “It could be there anyway, and it is just that we have not been told, so I do not dare swear that there are no new cases there.”

While many today are at home celebrating the holiday (röddagen), Umeå businesses are treating assiduous hospital workers to lunch. Peter Hagjhoo, the manager of restaurant Pinchos in the city center, told Umeå Today how well the lunches were received today at the hospital.

“The staff in intensive care have been really grateful for it,” he said.

“The first day we did a nice vegetarian lasagna for everyone, and we have also done a beef bourguignon, and a vegetarian version with red beets,” he explained. “Today, we made sausage from Hanzens, a local butcher here in Umeå, and potatoes pureed with vegetables.”

Pinchos sous chefs preparing meals for Umeå University Hospital staff. -P. Haghjoo

“We’ve provided good microwave dinners because they are eating at different times depending on how they are working, when they’re stopping for the day, and when they have a break,” he continued, “so we wanted to make a good healthy food that could be microwaved and still be very good.”

Besides the meals, the hospital workers also received free Red Bull energy drink. “I called around to see if some other companies we’re working with would be interested to help out,” Haghjoo said, “so we got Red Bull to sponsor them.” 

“They’ve been delivering one Red Bull every day per worker,” he added. “I didn’t know if Red Bull would be accepted at the hospital, but they are working many hours, so maybe they needed that extra energy, and they appreciated everything really a lot.”

On Wednesday, Pinchos and its property manager, bank HSB Norr, said they would team up to deliver 360 meals to hospital workers over this weekend.

Umeå’s churches have been unusually empty on this Easter weekend, as parishioners are staying home to avoid spreading coronavirus. Last night, Ålidhem Church celebrated its usually crowded Easter midnight service to sparsely populated pews. 29 people were in attendance; last year there were 70, according to Church of Sweden priest Sven-Bertil Grahn. Umeå Today took a 360 degree, clickable and scrollable virtual reality photograph of the church, during the middle of the service last night.


In non-pandemic years, the Easter midnight service is a full mass — meaning that the congregation takes communion, the shared eating of bread and wine, a central Christian ritual.

“We cannot do communion because of the coronavirus,” Grahn told Umeå Today. “But now we are keeping the church open all day, with a priest sitting there” to receive visitors and offer counselling for people anxious about the crisis. Normally, Ålidhem Church is closed during the day. 

A sign at Ålidhem Church explains that only 50 people are allowed inside at one time. -Umeå Today

Grahn also said that he is doing much pastoral counselling over the phone with people in self-isolation. Asked whether he has prayed with people over internet videochat, repllied, “not yet — but it’s something I want to try very soon.”

In late March, the Church of Sweden in Umeå announced it was teaming up with the Red Cross and the city of Umeå’s volunteer programme to deliver food to seniors and others at-risk for severe reaction to coronavirus.

Umeå’s Muslim community is also adjusting to the dangers of gathering during the pandemic. Ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, which begins on April 23, the Ålidhem-based Islamic Society of Västerbotten, where many gather to pray, has been closed indefinitely. A post on the society’s web page says that it is following government hygiene recommendations. “May God protect us, our families and the whole world from this pandemic,” the post reads.

Signs on doorway to Ålidhem’s Islamic society state that it is temporary closed. -Umeå Today

Another Muslim prayer room in the city, the one at the hospital, is also closed indefinitely.

Meanwhile, the city of Umeå yesterday released a long list of activities it sponsors, that residents can enjoy, while observing coronavirus protection precautions.

Indoor activities:

  • On the city website, seniors at home can follow exercise videos. This is to replace classes for the elderly, in public facilities, which have been cancelled due to coronavirus.
  • Digital hangouts for adults with disabilities: at 18:00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the city live-streams home crafts workshops and live band performances respectively.
  • Youth centers, including in Ålidhem, Mariehem, and Ersboda, as well as the large Hamnmagasinet downtown, have special opening hours.
  • The city libraries are promoting their “e-library”, which you can access online, which loans e-books, audiobooks, magazines, and films. The libraries are also physically open, sometimes with changed hours.

Outdoor activities:

The city is emphasizing that snow and ice are still on the ground, and in some places it is “extremely wet”, so residents may want to bring something to sit on. Children should usually wear helmets. The weather can also determine whether a facility is accessible.

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