Hospitals in the Swedish capital Stockholm are struggling to cope with a sharp increase in Covid-19 hospitalizations, according to the regional health authority.
Björn Eriksson, Stockholm’s regional healthcare director, said that hospitals were having to postpone certain planned procedures, but he assured the public that they were ready to take care of all Covid-19 patients.
Sweden took a sharply different approach to its European neighbours in its Covid-19 response in the spring. The country did not enter lockdown and instead issued guidance to citizens, urging them to practice social distancing and personal hygiene. Its coronavirus death toll during the spring was one of the highest in the world per capita.
The regional health authority reports that 349 patients are in hospital in Stockholm, an increase of 76 from the end of last week. The numbers may appear low, but Sweden currently has an infection rate of approximately 346 cases per 100,000 people, far higher than Finland (53), Denmark (254) and Norway (112), according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)’s latest data.
“The strain on our emergency hospitals is great,” Eriksson said.
“We consider the situation to be serious and are increasing coordination within the Stockholm Region in order to continue to be one step ahead in our planning so that healthcare capacity increases faster than healthcare needs.”
Sweden has tightened its guidance this month, limiting the number of people gathering in restaurants and bars as cases surge.
As of Friday, Sweden has registered 6,022 Covid-19 related deaths and a total of 146,461 cases, according to official health data.