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Umeå Begins Mass Coronavirus Testing, Starting With Nursing Homes

In order to prevent the coronavirus from spreading to the elderly, the city has started its mass testing for the infection in Dragonen nursing home.

CENTRUM – The City of Umeå announced this afternoon that it has started its mass testing for coronavirus in Dragonen, a nursing home in the city center, where two cases of the coronavirus had earlier been found. All the residents and employees of two floors of Dragonen will be tested, the City said, in order to determine who, if any, have the infection.

“This is an effective way to reduce the risk that individuals who are infected, but do not have symptoms, continue to infect people near them,” explained Pernilla Henriksson, the City’s director of elderly care.

Yesterday, regional officials announced that they now had the resources to begin mass testing, in order to be able to track the infection better, and above all to prevent it from reaching elderly populations who are at highest risk of serious medical complications.

In case staff at nursing homes are, indeed, infected, the city says it will give them sick leave and replace them with backup personnel. “We are also prepared,” care home operations manager Malin Sundbom said, “to manage a larger number of infected patients, both by isolating them and by assigning them specific staff who will work with them exclusively.”

The City said that it hopes to do similar testing in others of the 17 total nursing homes in Umeå. The City’s head nurse, Ann-Gerd Töyrä, explained that “we have a good working relationship with the Västerbotten County Infection Control Unit, and I hope that the same kind of testing may take place wherever the infection is found.”

Meanwhile, a day after regional officials announced that the health care burden of the virus had become “stable” in Umeå, the number of hospitalized patients decreased again by two, to 14. Four are in intensive care. The number of confirmed cases rose by a high number relative to recent days — by 14, for a total of 391 — due, perhaps, to the increased testing. No new deaths were reported.

Umeå University researchers have received over 3 million SEK in grants funding six different projects fighting coronavirus.

The university announced last night that a major national research fund has given 3.4 million SEK to experimenters both from the science faculty and the medical school, to help understand the way that the coronavirus works, and try to find drugs to treat it. The money came from SciLifeLab and the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, which in total are funding 67 projects nationwide, having received 285 applications in March.

The projects include:

  • one examining how organisms respond to the coronavirus, using Umeå-developed DNA modification technology CRISPR
  • one which looks at current medications which might be repurposed to treat coronavirus
  • one examining the severity of coronavirus in different areas of Sweden
  • one studying how cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, go from mild to severe
  • one searching for an anti-coronavirus drug by quickly screening huge amounts of molecular compounds
  • one which tries to determine what genetic factors might go into how people respond to the coronavirus

“It is a real pleasure to see Umeå University researchers at the forefront — and competitive — in research important to the ongoing pandemic,” said Medical School Dean Patrick Danielson. “It is further confirmation of how strong infection research is in Umeå, where the Laboratory for Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden (MIMS) plays an extremely important role.”

Västerbotten expects to save millions of SEK a year by introducing free coffee for health care staff.

Västerbotten County said last night that it will start providing health care employees with free coffee — and save money in the process, according to SVT.

Starting in 2015, the County replaced its free coffee dispensers with rented coffee machines which charged for each cup. The problem, officials say, was that the payment system “often acted up”, which means that employees ended up spending considerably more time getting coffee. After crunching the numbers, the County determined that revenue from the rented machines came out to some six hundred thousand SEK a year, while the financial equivalent to the loss in workers’ time was 7.4 million SEK. By introducing free coffee, the region expects now to save about 4.5 million SEK per year total, versus when it has rented machines.

Facebook commenters have become incensed, after Västerbottens-Kuriren published a photo of a police car in a handicapped spot at Avion.

Last night at 9:30 PM, Västerbottens-Kuriren published a reader-submitted photo of a police car parked in a handicapped spot at Avion shopping center. The newspaper put the article, along with the photo, on the Västerbottens-Kuriren Facebook page, and received one of the strongest responses it has had for a non-major news story in a very long time.

Commenters were divided into roughly two camps: those that felt the police were in the wrong for parking in a handicapped spot, and those who felt it was bad to seemingly shame the police.

“Laziness is not a handicap!!” wrote one commenter, while another observed, “Poorly done. Police can use a regular parking spot, or stand their car at the entrance, if the matter is urgent.”

Others, however, defended the law enforcement officials. “The police can park in such a place,” stated one commenter. “Since we don’t know their reason for being there, we also don’t know if parking there was necessary or not.”

Another commenter reflected more on the behavior of the rest of the community. “What do the rest of you do at work? Do you normally leave lunch in order to help someone in need? Please let these cops stand wherever they want. They won’t stay long, so maybe if you need that particular parking spot, you can wait 15 minutes? There may be a damn good explanation that you or I don’t need to know at all.”

Another thought that the police had not done anything particularly wrong, because “there are, indeed, several thousand handicapped spots. Enough for everyone,” which, perhaps expectedly, received an angry-face emoji.

“Aren’t there worse things happening right now in the world?” asked one, referring perhaps to the coronavirus pandemic. He added: “[expletive] problem”.

Västerbottens-Kuriren then published an interview with police spokesperson Jörgen Sundin, who said that officers were at Avion to respond to a suspected theft at a shop, by someone who police only described as in his or her 30s.

As for parking in the handicapped spot: “It was a mistake,” said Lundin. “If the patrol parks there, a proportionate reason must exist.”

“There are exceptional circumstances, for example, if it is urgent or tactically appropriate,” he said, which can justify such a choice of parking spot.

“In this case, though, it was a mistake. We lay flat (Vi lägger oss platt),” he repeated, using a Swedish idiom to refer to bending down prostrate, in remorse.

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