Sweden coronavirus press conference, April 8

On this day, there were 1.39 million cases globally. This was almost the same amount as the day before, so they thought, maybe updated figures were stuck in some database.

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There were 8419 cases in Sweden, out of which 726 people had been reported sick under the last day. I think not all those people actually got sick the last day — there was some lag with getting new illnesses from the days before. That is why you see 3 days in a row directly preceding with fewer cases. The intake into intensive care is also still constant.

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Anders Tegnell, who is the national epidemiologist, thinks that they have now reached a plateau. They no longer have an increase in cases from week to week. (Personally, I do not see a plateau in the graph).

Then they showed data from Stockholm versus data from the rest of the country. Anders Tegnell says this shows even more clearly a plateau, at least in Stockholm. In fact, he continues, Stockholm’s curve is pretty flat, and Stockholm’s medical staff has done a great job. Also, they’ve started to look at retirement homes and the number of deaths. Preliminarily, they’ve found that in Stockholm, 40% of everyone over 70 years who died of coronavirus lived at a retirement home, while in the rest of the country, it was only 4%. This means that when it comes to Stockholm, retirement homes are way over-represented in contributing to the number of deaths. They’ll keep on analyzing these figures.

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The blue bars are Stockholm, the orange is the rest of the country.

Then Anders Tegnell had some words to say over asymptomatic people, and face masks. First, he says they don’t know how many people have coronavirus but have no symptoms, but they do know that people like that are far less symptomatic. Second, that face masks are most essential for hospital workers, and there’s no good evidence that they stop you from getting sick — only that they can help stop a sick person from getting other people sick. But in fact, a sick person should not be out and about. A sick person should stay home.

So then Anders Tegnell comes back to his common refrain, which is that stopping coronavirus means staying home if you’re sick. Also, wash your hands.

This lady spoke next about a survey they had done to see how people have changed their behaviors to reduce coronavirus risk. Over 80% say they now wash their hands more often and more carefully. About 75% have stopped shaking hands. Women are more likely to be following these recommendations than men. There’s about 10 different behaviors shown, but the text is too small to read. She talked a long bit more, and then said: good job, everyone, on changing your behaviors! We’ve done it together!

Question from a reporter: you’ve said that if you don’t have symptoms, but you actually are infected, then you are unlikely to infect someone else. So should medical workers who test positive keep working if they have no symptoms?

The reporter adds, by way of motivation for his question, that there have been quite dramatic figures coming out of the hospital in Linköping, where the doctors and nurses have been tested and a lot them without symptoms tested positive.

Anders Tegnell: First of all, no, the figures from the hospital in Linköping are not dramatic at all, this is completely expected. And also, no, absolutely not, medical workers testing positive should not keep working, that’s a big risk to take.

** Note! In previous press conferences, Anders Tegnell has many many times stated how you can’t test non-symptomatic people. In fact, see further below. But now, he forgets this when talking about the testing of asymptomatic medical workers testing positive.

Question: Other countries in Europe, like Austria and Denmark, are sending signals that they want to relax some of the restrictions. What do you see as risks there?

Anders Tegnell: There’s some studies and models that show if you open up quickly, you can get large peak, and a dramatic strain on the medical resources. So many countries are now asking, what can we do? I think there’s an agreement that we can’t do everything at once. It will be very important to see how it unfolds.

Question: Do you know anything else about what’s behind the quick spread in retirement homes in Stockholm?

Anders Tegnell: We have just started looking into this. It’s a complex question, so it’s going to take some time to figure it out. And then we can take those lessons to other parts of the country so that the situation will not be repeated there.

Question: Given the dramatic rise of coronavirus cases in Stockholm, what can be done to put the brakes on that situation?

Anders Tegnell: A lot. We can test the staff working there. Train the staff better, put better routines in place, check out who’s coming and going, make sure you can isolate people who get sick. We don’t know yet how many retirement homes have done this.

Question: But should we be testing all the staff at retirement homes?

Anders Tegnell: That’s a problem. The test is only good for when you take it. It’s not good at all if you don’t have symptoms. You can test negative now, and then you could be positive two hours later. So testing is really only important when you have symptoms.

Question — in English! — from a reporter from Reuters: Last night the US president Ugly Loser said that Sweden is suffering very greatly. I wonder if you were surprised by his assessment and if you share his opinion.

Anders Tegnell: No, as we’ve said here before, we don’t share his opinion. Of course, we’re suffering. Everyone in the world right now is suffering in different ways. But Swedish healthcare, which I guess he alludes to — it’s difficult to understand — is taking care of this in a very, very good manner. It’s a lot of work, a lot of stress on the staff, but it’s working. And the Swedish healthcare is delivering results just as good as they’ve ever done. And Swedish healthcare is one of the best in the world, and it continues to be like that.

Question: right  now, people are exercising less than usual. What’s the impact on public health?

Anders Tegnell: yes, this is not good at all. In the short term, it maybe isn’t a big deal, but we don’t want people to lose good habits. People should absolutely keep moving. And especially activities for children should go forward. We can’t just blindly steer past one set of consequences from this epidemic, but we have to pay attention to other consequences, too.

Back to the Studio, the main newscaster summarized the press conference:

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and he especially pointed out the part about women following the guidelines better than men, and that’s quite expected, he adds with a chuckle.

Then the reporter beside him at the desk summarizes the comments and questions that people are leaving on the chat. People are upset that the death rate in Sweden is so much higher than in neighboring countries, and are feeling unsafe with the lighter restrictions on movement in place.

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The main newscaster answers: Yes, this is the line the government has taken, different from neighboring governments, and it’s very hard to know … and you know, during a regular season of flu, we have about 2,500 people who die, and right now with coronavirus deaths, we’re up to … 678 deaths. But …  of course people are worried. Sure.

Absolutely, says the reporter beside him. But look at her face.

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Wow, the reporter beside him is so different from Iva Horvatovic (who holds a similar role on other days). Iva is always saying things like: bad things happening in Sweden are happening in other countries … and the recommendations from the government have been very clear. This new lady, whose name is Mikaela Somnell, has a totally different stance on things. First, when the newscaster was joking with her about it being expected that women would follow the recommendations more carefully than men, she shut him down! I didn’t add that detail above, but she did — she basically ignored him — and launched instead into the bit about people commenting that Sweden’s death rate is much worse than neighboring countries.

Then she reports other complaints: that other people have commented that all schools — not just high schools — need to be closed in Sweden.

Then they start talking about Easter vacation trips and travel. And the man just said, well, the government has recommended that people don’t really travel. And Mikaela says (completely opposite to what Iva has said) that people are asking for more clarifications about what type of travel is allowed, because the government has been so unclear about it.

Then it was time for the individual interview with a contemplative Anders Tegnell:

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Question: We’ve been talking about how during Easter, we shouldn’t travel far, and we shouldn’t visit old relatives. So how about summer? What’s the outlook for summer? Will I be able to travel to the south of Sweden and visit with my dad?

Anders Tegnell: Yes, I think so. There’s quite a bit of evidence that shows that by summer, we should have a pretty quiet situation in Sweden, so that you can travel around here. But the rest of the world will still be quite disturbed. It’s also hard to know exactly what it will be like in different regions in Sweden. But we hope for a much better summer than Easter.

The reporter again: A question about people without symptoms. I understand there’s no test that shows if you have had the virus or no. So as someone who hasn’t had symptoms, what should I do? Should I stay home or can I meet people … ?

Anders Tegnell: No, you can keep on living your life just within the restrictions we talked about today. Stay home and work from home if you can. Don’t go out and meet people if you have symptoms. If you want to travel, think about if you really need to do it now, or if it can wait. And don’t visit old people.

Then it was again back to the Studio, and the main newscaster – the man – said: yes, so that was Anders Tegnell with some positive outlook there, a little hopeful for the summer … what do you think, Mikaela? It feels a little positive at least, doesn’t it?

He turns to Mikaela; Mikaela is stuck. What can she say? So she ekes out a “ye — ee — es” … sure, in comparison to how the Easter is turning out, the bit about summer sure is positive.

But the main newscaster wants more. Mikaela’s been reading all the angry comments on the news-chat; now he demands that she read out some glad comments. Mikaela says, ehhhh …

Finally she says, yes, well, a lot of people what to thank the medical workers and express their gratitude … so yes, there’s some positive comments.

But Mikaela can’t help herself, the very next thing out of her mouth is:

And … then, people are still worried that we still see an increase in cases … but … yes, people do like this togetherness that this pandemic has created.

The main newscaster takes this and runs with it: Yes, there’s always those things that are positive during this difficult time.

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