Sweden: Current measures to fight Covid-19

This article is about the work of Sweden’s Ministry of Health and Social Affairs in response to the COVID-19 virus.

It discusses the current measures in health and social care and health and social care staff.

Maximum of eight participants should be normative for all of society

The coming weeks are crucial to stop the spread of infection. Given the situation we are now in, the Swedish Government considers that more measures are required.

Therefore, the government is now proposing a ban on holding public gatherings and events with more than eight participants, and that the previous exemption for eating and drinking establishments be removed,

Alcohol sales banned after 22.00

Local general advice now applies in large parts of the country. However, the government’s assessment is that this advice is not being followed to the extent necessary to break the spread of infection.

For this reason, the government is proposing that serving, in the meaning of the Alcohol Act, of spirits, drinks, wine, strong beer and other fermented alcoholic beverages be prohibited between 22.00 and 11.00.

The ban does not apply to special housing (for example, care homes for older people) or room service at hotels or minibars in hotel rooms. The proposal is that the ordinance should enter into force on 20 November 2020 and apply until 28 February 2021.

Survey of how COVID-19 has affected the right to home care services while away on holiday

The Social Services Act requires municipalities to also offer home care services to people staying in the municipality temporarily.

The National Board of Health and Welfare will now make a survey of how these provisions have functioned in practice during the pandemic.

Some municipalities have said that in spring and summer 2020 it was difficult to deliver social services owing to the outbreak of COVID-19.

The government is commissioning the National Board of Health and Welfare to survey how this has affected the possibilities for private persons to obtain home care services during temporary holiday stays and when staying in seasonal homes.

As part of this survey, the Board is also to describe how consultations have been held between residential municipalities and municipalities of stay. The Board is to present its report by 15 February 2021.

Extended benefit period for certain risk groups

The benefit period of the benefits payable to certain risk groups, certain close relatives of risk groups and parents of certain children who have recently been seriously ill as a result of COVID-19 is now being extended from 90 to 184 days.

This means that benefit can be paid for all days in the period from 1 July until and including 31 December 2020.

Reinforced communication to the public about COVID-19

The spread of the infection has increased in Sweden in the autumn.

The government is therefore commissioning the Public Health Agency of Sweden, the county administrative boards and the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) to jointly coordinate, strengthen and develop communication measures directed at the public.

This applies especially to the introduction of local general advice in the regions.

This communication should be aimed especially at the groups and situations where the spread of the infection is increasing or risks increasing, and where compliance with advice and recommendations is judged to be deficient.

These authorities will also produce a communication strategy to ensure that communication at national, regional and local level is coordinated and that there is clarity that there may be regional adaptations and focuses.

Follow-up of vaccinations against COVID-19

Safety, quality and efficacy are fundamental requirements for all vaccines introduced in the EU. The safety requirements for COVID-19 vaccines are as high as for all other vaccines in the EU.

It is important to follow up vaccines when they come into use after being approved by the European medicines agencies.

The government is therefore proposing a legislative amendment making it possible for all vaccinations for COVID-19 to be registered in the national vaccination register at the Public Health Authority of Sweden.

Its purpose is to make it easier for the Public Health Authority of Sweden and other actors to, for instance, follow up the safety and effect of the vaccines and vaccination coverage in the various target groups.

Commission to secure access to medical products and devices

On account of COVID-19 the Swedish Medical Products Agency has intensified work to secure access to medical products and devices.

The Agency has, for instance, worked on specific amendments to its regulations, questions concerning the transfer of medical products between pharmacies and regions, exemptions from charges for COVID-19-related clinical trials and central coordination of matters concerning medical products and devices at national level between government agencies, regions and municipalities.

The Medical Products Agency is receiving SEK 14.7 million to enable this work to continue.

The funding is to be used to strengthen work on securing access to medical products and devices and to expand information measures and collaboration.

The Agency is to present its report by 31 March 2021.

SEK 3 billion for more testing for COVID-19

At present large-scale testing is being conducted throughout the country. This provides good possibilities of discovering any carriers of the disease and of effective infection tracing.

Applied together, large-scale PCR testing and infection tracing are important tools to press down the infection and obtain a correct picture of the state of the infection in the country.

The government is therefore allocating a further SEK 3 billion in 2020 to meet the need for large-scale testing during the remainder of the year.

Compensation for personal protective equipment for personal assistants

COVID-19 has resulted in additional costs for personal protective equipment for personal assistants.

The municipalities were already able to apply for compensation for that additional cost.

Now the Government is proposing a new government grant ordinance so that private providers operating personal assistance services can also apply for compensation.

SEK 50 million will be allocated to this initiative. The government’s proposal is based on an agreement between the government parties, the Centre Party and the Liberal Party.

Extension of the Act on temporary disease prevention measures at eating and drinking establishments

The spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 is continuing in Sweden and the rest of the world.

To reduce its rate of spread the government is proposing an extension of the Act on temporary infectious disease control measures at eating and drinking establishments until 31 May 2021.

National Board of Health and Welfare to support the work of the regions on borrowing health care professionals

The government is commissioning the National Board of Health and Welfare to follow and support the work of the regions on putting ways of working in place for borrowing health care professionals from one another.

This commission also includes analysing whether there is a need to develop a national staff reinforcement resource.

Commission to analyse the possibilities of infection-proofing more events

In the autumn the government has worked for a more sustainable and precise regime that makes gatherings and events possible – at the same time as the risk of infection can be limited in a satisfactory way. 

The Public Health Agency of Sweden has now been given two commissions for further work in this area: first, to analyse the possibilities of amending the banning ordinance and, second, to continuously review and, when required, adapt general advice or recommendations as to how different types of events can be organised safely.

The advice or recommendations can, for example, apply to cultural and sports events, exhibitions, amusement parks and jumble sales.

Swedish Government