Sweden will extend its current rules to curb COVID-19 transmission, as health authorities expect that as much as 10 percent of the population could be infected by the virus in the next two weeks.
The government expects to be able to remove most restrictions from Feb. 9, Social Minister Lena Hallengren said at a press conference on Tuesday. Transmission is rampant in the country of 10.4 million people and vaccinations are proceeding at a fast pace, leading health authorities to estimate cases will begin to decline next month.
“We estimate that about half a million people are currently being infected by COVID-19 every week, and we hope that another half a million people a week will accept the offer to get vaccinated,” said Karin Tegmark Wisell, director-general at the Public Health Agency. “That will lead to a decline as there are fewer individuals who can be infected.”
Under current rules, public outdoors events are capped at 500 participants, and bars and restaurants must close no later than 11 p.m.
The decision comes after the UK has announced easing of restrictions, and Denmark plans to end curbs and reclassify COVID-19 as a disease that no longer poses a threat to society. Tegmark Wisell said the development of the pandemic in Sweden lags behind the UK by three to four weeks and Denmark by about two weeks.
“Just like in the UK and in Denmark, we see that we have entered a new phase of the pandemic,” she said. “There may be new developments, but at the moment we all make a similar assessment.”