- Only four Swedish regions have a lower per person death rate than Västerbotten
- Compared to Stockholm, Umeå restaurants found to be keeping to coronavirus health codes
- Swedbank economist: parts of Sweden’s economy better off than other E.U. countries
- Umeå Hospital uses a “coronacycle” to reach patients more quickly
- Volunteer organization Vän i Umeå organizes dozens of city walks to combat isolation and provide exercise
ÅLIDHEM – An Umeå Today analysis shows that although Sweden’s coronavirus death rate per person is among the European Union’s — and Europe’s — highest, Västerbotten County’s rate is lower than all western European Union countries, as well as all of western and central Europe — with the exceptions of Norway, Iceland, and tiny Monaco and Liechtenstein.
Västerbotten has reported 15 deaths with a regional population of 270 154 in 2019. This equates to a rate of 55 deaths per one million inhabitants. Among Sweden’s 21 counties, only four have a lower death rate than Västerbotten: Värmland, Kalmar, Blekinge, and the island of Gotland. Hard-hit Stockholm, in comparison, has a death rate of 610 per one million inhabitants.
Among European Union countries, Sweden has a relatively high death rate, at 265 per one million inhabitants. Six European Union countries have a higher rate. They are, in declining order, Belgium, Andorra, Spain, Italy, France, and the Netherlands. The United Kingdom — which recently left the Union — has a rate between Italy and France’s.
However, Västerbotten’s rate is lower than all of these countries, and much of western and central Europe.
The numbers were taken from Worldometer, a statistical aggregation website. Its sources include, in many cases, the reporting of governments themselves. Some eastern European countries — particularly those that are not defined as full democracies by the United Nations, such as Russia — have been accused by international organizations as not reporting all coronavirus deaths. It could, therefore, be the case that Västerbotten’s death rate is also lower than countries who are misreporting.
Besides the statistical evidence, there are anecdotal signs that the coronavirus crisis has hit other regions of Sweden harder than Västerbotten. For example, health inspectors in Stockholm have found almost one-quarter of restaurants there to be overlooking national guidelines against overcrowding which can lead to the spread of the infection. Since the end of March, 84 Stockholm restaurants have been cited for health code violations, and nine forced to shut down, six of which have now repoened.
Sweden’s environment and climate minister, Katarina Luhr, said today that “many Stockholmers have made great sacrifices during the pandemic, and it is important that they continue to keep their distance, despite the spring weather.”
In contrast to Stockholm, health inspectors in Umeå last weekend found no major code violations among the restaurants they visited.
Yesterday, Umeå University Hospital staff suggested that the death rate in the city may actually be decreasing, because the intensive care ward has not been overburdened, compared to Stockholm hospitals like the Karolinska Institute. Meanwhile, earlier this month influential national epidemiologist Anders Tegnell hypothesized that Sweden’s high death rate is due to the country having a relatively large nursing home population, an idea that Umeå doctors have challenged, blaming the death rate on Tegnell and the government not recommending that the country go into stricter quarantine as neighboring Norway, Finland, and Denmark have done.
Sweden’s economy, like most countries’, is suffering during the pandemic. However, Swedbank’s chief economist, Andreas Wallström, told TT today that some Swedish sectors are doing better than in other European countries. “Generally, because Swedes have been allowed to move around more freely,” he said, “there will end up being more economic consumption.” In Umeå, signs of this economic activity were clear this holiday weekend, which brought large amounts of shoppers to IKEA and Avion, as reported by Sveriges Radio P4. Loudspeakers and guards had to keep customers from gathering too closely, P4 said.
The number of patients in the hospital, in intensive care, and total deaths remained unchanged today, at 19, 9, and 15, respectively. Three more cases of coronavirus were confirmed since yesterday, bringing the regional total to 330.
Umeå hospital has shown off a new piece of equipment in its intensive care ward: the coronacycle (covid-cykeln). Small bicycles and scooters are often used in the hospital to traverse its long hallways between various departments. The coronacycle is a tricycle fitted out with specific, hygienic plastic boxes containing coronavirus-fighting equipment. Hospital staff told SVT television that if a patient in a hospital department shows signs of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, then intensive care physicians use the coronacycle to reach the patient faster.
Vän i Umeå, a volunteer association, is now organizing walks around the city in order to help people socialize and get fresh air and exercise during the pandemic. The walkers meet in groups of three, at 3 PM, in order to prevent spread of the infection, at various points around Umeå such as Väven, the university, and Ersboda. The walks are coordinated via a Facebook post, and dozens of people have responded proposing promenades around many of Umeå’s neighborhoods.
Vän i Umeå is also organizing a quilting project to commemorate the pandemic in the city. This morning’s Umeå Today Sunday Morning Feature, by contributor Nausheen Khan, describes the project, along with showing many colorful pictures of patches being made for the quilt.
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