- 40% increase in infection count in three days
- University doctoral thesis “spikning” (nailing) tradition cancelled
- Historic word for hoarding — hamstering — re-enters Umeå vernacular
BERGHEM – There are now 70 confirmed coronavirus cases in Västerbotten, according to local health authorities, marking a 7.6% increase from yesterday, and a 40% increase in the last three days. Among the cases, 17 are hospitalized and eight are in intensive care. Half of those in intensive care are in Umeå.
Several cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, were reported among Umeå municipality social care services, according to a survey conducted by Sveriges Radio. These cases were found in the home care, personal assistance and disability divisions. Municipality Head Nurse Ann-Gerd Töyra confirmed to Umeå Today that these cases were among clients of city care services, and that workers have “guidelines, routines, and protective equipment to handle Covid-19 infected persons.”
Local businesses and authorities are adjusting to further national social distancing restrictions reported yesterday by Umeå Today. Companies, such as the appliance and home electronics retailer Elon, today announced new health measures. These include more extensive cleaning of stores, free delivery, and reduced contact at the time of delivery and installation. “We have known many of our customers for decades and now it is important to stand up for everyone in Umeå and to help the elderly and sick get the support they need,” Elon’s Stefan Bergqvist said.
The restrictions also impact the culture and leisure sector. Västerbottens Museum this morning announced that it will close from 4 April until further notice. Bildmuseet, the university art museum, closed on 20 March.
As numbers of coronavirus cases rise ever more rapidly in the area, local officials are facing longer term effects of the pandemic. Umeå projects a 133 million SEK loss in tax revenues that will impact its 2021 budget, the chair of the municipal board, Hans Lindberg, told Västerbottens-Kuriren. Caused largely due to businesses struggling during the crisis and layoffs, this loss in tax revenue will most certainly effect the municipality’s budget, Lindberg said. “The budget for next year will be very stripped down. There is no room for ambitious improvements.”
One loss of revenue for the municipality mentioned by Lindberg is the city opera, Norrlands Operan, which today said on Facebook it was suspending all public activities for the spring. Norrlands Operan is moving performances of Don Giovanni to the autumn, and planning for new performances in autumn and winter. While no rehearsals are taking place, “decor and costume production for this autumn’s opera is now being carried out as planned,” Norrlands Operan’s press officer Petra Kangas told Umeå Today. The opera singer Joa Helgesson performed arias from the balcony of Norrlands Operan in March, when Don Giovanni was originally scheduled to have been performed.
Some stores are generating creative solutions to dealing with the problem of reduced pedestrian traffic. The luxury delicatessen Duå, in Väven, yesterday announced it is offering a take-away package called deli bags, filled with Spanish delicacies, also available for home delivery for those in “culinary quarantine”. The packages quickly sold out. Duå says it will have a new deli bag offer next week. Co-owner Lars Åkerlund told Umeå Today that “we are keeping our spirits up and trying to take each day as it comes.”
“We will continue our fight for a tastier Umeå,” said Åkerlund.
As Umeå Today reported yesterday, Umeå University has prohibited studying in the library, as well as reserving books. Also cancelled is the traditional thesis “spikning” or “nailing” ceremony when new doctoral candidates post their theses to a wall in the library. Now, instead, a notice announces the new theses as “endast elektronisk spikning” — “only electronic nailing”.
Ethnology doctoral candidate Evelina Liliequist had her nailing ceremony cancelled, and told Umeå Today she also felt compelled to cancel her defence party. “I realise, of course, crying over a cancelled party or ceremony is nothing like losing a loved one, being that person who could die from Covid-19 yourself, losing your job or suffering other consequences from this pandemic,” said Liliequist.
Nevertheless, Liliequist was disappointed. “However silly it may seem, ceremonies, like nailing your thesis to a wall at the university library or dancing like crazy at your defence party after a long day of defending, mean something. It marks the end of an era.” In efforts to combat the spread of the virus, Umeå University has implemented over the past weeks a number of changes concerning education at all levels, including the doctoral level.
“As much as I respect the situation and am aware of my privileges, I still feel it’s my (cancelled) party, and I can cry if I want to. And believe me, I want to cry,” Liliequist wrote.
Meanwhile, hamstering is becoming a familiar word in the Swedish press, government announcements and Facebook posts. It refers to hoarding necessary goods in a time of crisis. The word entered the Swedish language from German via Danish during World War I, according to Professor Lars-Erik Edlund, Nordic language specialist at Umeå University. “When people hoarded supplies they were likened to hamsters, which collect supplies in autumn,” Professor Edlund told Umeå Today. During Covid-19, people around the world have been hamstering various goods, such as toilet paper. On Wednesday, the Swedish government warned especially about hamstering prescription medication.
One organisation, however, is actually requesting that people, indeed, hamster. “Hamster humanity” (hamstra medmänsklighet) is a new campaign from the Salvation Army (Myrorna), which has a branch in Ersboda, encouraging people to shop at its stores in order to support the charity.