Sweden sets another daily COVID-19 case record as hospitals feel strain

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden, which has avoided lockdowns throughout the pandemic, registered 2,820 new coronavirus cases on October 28, the highest since the pandemic began and the third record in just a few days, health department statistics showed on Thursday.
A steady surge in new cases appears to have gained momentum in Sweden in recent weeks, although the disease has recurred later than much of Europe and has not yet reached the peaks seen in countries like France.
The increase is comparable to a record from the previous day, which was revised on Thursday to just over 2,400 cases. The health department has said the spring peak was likely much higher but was not recorded due to a lack of testing.
"We are gradually approaching the upper limit for what the health system can cope with. Together, as in spring, we can push this curve down and avoid the burden on the health system," said chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell at a press conference.
The health department has also decided to tighten the pandemic recommendations for three other regions, including the largest Swedish cities Stockholm and Gothenburg, as infection rates have risen sharply in these areas.
Sweden has relied primarily on voluntary measures, most of which have not been enforced but have still largely been respected. The new stricter local recommendations, already in place in two regions with severe infections, included advice on avoiding indoor spaces such as shops and gyms.
The Stockholm authorities separately stated that the number of Covid-19 patients in need of care in the region rose by around 60% in the past week after an almost 80% increase in registered infections.
Sweden recorded 7 new deaths for a total of 5,934. The Swedish death rate per capita is many times higher than that of its Nordic neighbors, but lower than in some larger European countries such as Spain and the UK.
(Reporting by Johan Ahlander; writing by Niklas Pollard; editing by Simon Johnson)

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