STOCKHOLM, April 22 (Reuters) – Sweden, which has withheld lockdowns throughout the pandemic, will postpone a preliminary plan to ease certain COVID -19 restrictions, due to the ongoing high levels of new infections, the government said on Thursday .
Sweden is experiencing a third wave of the virus and the number of patients treated in intensive care is at the highest level since the spring of last year. Read more
“When the burden on healthcare decreases and the spread of infection decreases, only then will the government be ready to start lifting restrictions,” said Prime Minister Stefan Lofven at a press conference. “But we are not there yet.”
The restrictions will be extended until mid-May and mean that restaurants must close at 20.30 and that stores and shopping centers can only let in a limited number of customers. Sports venues and public pools will remain effectively closed to visitors.
Lofven appealed to people to persevere for a while longer, but said that the vaccination program meant that there was light at the end of the tunnel.
“We may see the beginning of the end,” he said.
More than two million, or about a quarter, of all adult Swedes have now received at least one shot of vaccine.
Sweden registered 7,736 new covid-19 cases on Thursday and 19 new deaths, bringing the total deaths to 13,882.
The health authority said that cases reported so far this week had been lower than last week, but that it was too early to say whether the trend would continue.
Sweden’s death rate per capita is many times higher than in its Nordic neighbors, but lower than in most European countries that chose lockdowns.
Reporting by Johan Ahlander; editing Niklas Pollard
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