Swedish health officials said Stockholm has succumbed to a resurgence of the pandemic, after infections soared 100% over the past three weeks.
“We have a third wave of transmissions — it’s here now,” Johan Bratt, the acting health and medical care director for the Stockholm region, said at a press briefing on Wednesday.
The surge in new cases follows a warning from the government of Prime Minister Stefan Lofven that Sweden might need to enforce its first lockdown since the pandemic erupted roughly a year ago. Such a step would mark a dramatic reversal of the country’s earlier skepticism toward such far-reaching restrictions.
“Even though vaccinations have started, it will take a long time before enough people are inoculated for us to go back to a more normal way of life,” Bratt said. He also warned that hospitals are now bracing for a rise in Covid patients.
There were 6,336 new cases of Covid registered in the capital last week, compared with 3,225 reported for the week beginning Feb. 1, according to data compiled by the region.
The uptick follows a gloomy prognosis by state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, who told reporters on Tuesday that a third wave seemed impossible to avoid.
“To expect a scenario in which we don’t have any increase at all in the spring is all but ruled out by now,” Tegnell said.
But the country of 10.4 million people, which drew international attention for its laissez-faire approach at the outset the pandemic, will probably try to avoid a full lockdown.
“We still believe in finding the places where we can impose more targeted measures instead,” Tegnell said.