Sweden tightens local COVID-19 restrictions as cases soar

STOCKHOLM, Oct. 29 (Xinhua) -- Sweden extended its COVID-19 restrictions to more regions on Thursday, including the capital Stockholm, as the country reported a record 3,254 new infections in 24 hours.

Swedish Television (SVT) on Thursday quoted State Epidemiologist Anders Tegnell as saying that "Stockholm County, Vastra Gotaland County and Ostergotland County will have stricter restrictions to reduce the spread of infection."

According to the SVT report, starting Thursday, all those staying in the above regions are advised to refrain from spending time indoors in shops, malls, museums, libraries, bathhouses and gyms. However, people can still visit grocery stores and pharmacies.

Attending meetings, concerts, performances, sports training, matches and competitions is not recommended. If possible, people should avoid unnecessary close physical contact with non-family members.

"People are back at work, the weather has become colder. There are several factors that make the virus spread more effectively between people," Niklas Arnberg, professor of virology at Umea University, was quoted by the SVT as saying.

Earlier this month, the Swedish government has already recommended restrictions to the university city of Uppsala (about 70 kilometers north of Stockholm), where coronavirus has spread rapidly especially among younger people, and to Skane, the southernmost county of Sweden, where the number of patients in intensive care units has increased dramatically.

The Public Health Agency of Sweden said on Thursday that 3,254 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed in 24 hours, bringing the total number of infections to 121,167. The COVID-19 death toll now stands at 5,934.

As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, countries including France, China, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States are racing to find a vaccine.

According to the website of the World Health Organization, as of Oct. 19, 198 COVID-19 candidate vaccines were being developed worldwide, 44 of them clinical trials.

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