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Sweden Shifts Towards “Local Lockdown” COVID-19 Strategy

“no-lockdown” approach to tackling the COVID-19 outbreak and will now be looking to implement a strategy that allows local authorities to enforce local lockdowns. Although it is unclear whether the lockdowns will be mandatory.

Authorities at the local level will now be able to instruct citizens to avoid shopping centres, museums, libraries, swimming pools, gyms, sports training, sports matches, and concerts, as reported by The Telegraph.

It also empowers them, in consultation with Sweden’s public health agency, to instruct people to avoid public transport or to avoid visiting the elderly and others in risk groups.

“It’s more of a lockdown situation – but a local lockdown,” said Johan Nojd, who leads the infectious diseases department in Uppsala. Nojd added that authorities could move to stricter lockdown measures, if circumstances change.

“Perhaps tomorrow we will have several talking about concerts or restaurants and then perhaps one could say, ‘in Uppsala now for two or three weeks it is the Public Health Agency’s advice not to sit in restaurants late at night’.”

It is a clear shift in strategy, according to Dr Joacim Rocklov, professor of epidemiology at Umea University.

“What’s happened in the last couple of weeks is a movement towards a similar model to what has been used in Norway and many other countries,” he said.

“It’s very obvious that it’s a new strategy, but still the newspapers report on ‘the Swedish strategy’ as if it were fixed in March.”

While Sweden opted not to impose a lockdown, Norway’s health authorities closed down restaurants, cafés, bars, and hairdressers, with those that defied the order fined for non-compliance. Similar measures were taken in other Scandinavian nations.

“The number of new cases in Sweden has been climbing since the start of September, with a seven-day average of 65 per million people per day reported to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control on Friday, compared to 71, 40 and 25 cases per million in Denmark, Finland and Norway respectively,” reports The Telegraph‘s  Richard Orange.

Rocklov also believes that the so-called second wave of infections has led many to come to terms with the fact that a strategy to achieve herd immunity quickly is not effective.

“I think they must have been shocked by that, after all these strong claims that we were closing in on immunity in April and May. They must have realised that that’s not really the case.”

Dr Tegnell said on Thursday that the autumn resurgence in infections had changed his agency’s understanding.

“I think the obvious conclusion is that the level of immunity in those cities is not at all as high as we have, as maybe some people, have believed,” he said. “I think what we are seeing is very much a consequence of the very heterogeneous spread that this disease has, which means that even if you feel like there have been a lot of cases in some big cities, there are still huge pockets of people who have not been affected yet.”

Meanwhile, revered epidemiological modeller and Stockholm University maths professor, Tom Britton, found that even with more than 20% of the city’s population immune to COVID-19, the city still needed to impose preventive measures to prevent a resurgence in cases.

“Immunity is a little bit on our on our side, but there is still a substantial risk for future outbreaks in Sweden,” Dr Britton said.

“If we did not care anything about any restrictions or preventive measures, then I think we would see a big second wave, not as big as in the spring, but still a big one.

Friday saw the highest rise in new COVID-19 globally to date, with more than 400,000 new cases being reported in a single day, with more than a quarter of those coming out of Europe.

For more COVID-19 updates and other news from around the world, visit our News & Politics section.

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