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A week after Denmark said they are no longer categorizing COVID-19 as a “socially critical disease”, The Swedish Public Health Agency said it had reassessed COVID-19 and it is dropping coronavirus-related restrictions.

In a press conference, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said that due to a better understanding of the Omicron variant and good vaccination rates, the country can lift all measures.

“It’s time to open up Sweden,” Andersson said. “The pandemic isn’t over, but it is moving into a new phase.”

Most measures against COVID-19 will be phase out on Wednesday, 9 February.

The spread of omicron is still widespread and morbidity in society is high. However, due to the high vaccination coverage in the population, there is now good protection against serious covid-19 disease in the vast majority.

Recently, it has also become clear that omicron gives fewer cases of serious illness compared to previous variants. In comparison with previous waves of infection, fewer intensive care needs are needed despite a significantly higher number of cases of infection. The same applies to inpatient care. A large number of patients are cared for for covid-19, but compared with before, the proportion is lower, despite an extensive spread of infection.

Measures against the spread of infection must be proportionate and not more restrictive than necessary. The infection will continue to spread but, thanks to vaccinations, will no longer have as serious consequences for society as before. The Swedish Public Health Agency therefore requests the government to lift the classification of covid-19 as a socially and generally dangerous disease. The individual still has a great responsibility not to pass on the infection by staying at home when you are ill with symptoms of covid-19 and getting vaccinated, says CEO Karin Tegmark Wisell.

Health authorities say it is still important to protect the elderly and other high risk groups. The number of cases in elderly care is extensive and more than before during the pandemic. Even there, you usually have a very good protection of the vaccine. However, even mild symptoms can have serious consequences for individuals in this group. The risks also increase with increasing age.

In order to protect the most vulnerable, it is still important to take risk-reducing measures in health care and care for the elderly.

Vaccination against covid-19 provides good protection against serious illness and death. The vaccines reduce the risk of becoming infected and infecting others. To maintain vaccine protection, a booster dose needs to be taken according to the time intervals recommended for different groups. The unvaccinated who are most at risk for serious illness are those who belong to a medical risk group. The risk of serious illness also increases with increasing age. For those in the risk group and the elderly, it is also particularly important to have a refill dose when it is recommended.

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Together with regions, municipalities, authorities, civil society and other actors, it will be one of the Public Health Agency’s most important tasks to continue to work for a high and even vaccination coverage in the entire population in the future.

– The pandemic has shown that a robust and resilient society can only be built on good and equal health in the entire population. As long as groups in society with a significant risk of serious illness and death have not been reached or accepted the offer of vaccination, society is vulnerable, says Karin Tegmark Wisell.

The following recommendations were issued by the government:

  • Stay home and avoid close contact with others if you are ill with symptoms that may be covid-19.
  • The Swedish Public Health Agency recommends that adults who have not been vaccinated take special precautions. This means that these people should avoid crowds and large crowds indoors. The unvaccinated who belong to a medical risk group are at greater risk of serious illness. The risk of serious illness also increases with increasing age.

From 9 February, the regions are recommended to focus testing and infection tracing to protect fragile groups in health care and care:

    • Healthcare and elderly care staff, patients and caregivers should be tested for symptoms of covid-19.
    • Those who test positive for covid-19 should stay at home / avoid close contact with others for at least 5 days, of which 2 days without fever and with clear improvement. The recommendation complements the recommendation to stay at home and avoid close contact with others in the event of illness.
    • Continued work with risk reduction measures after risk assessment.