Sweden to reach COVID-19 peak in two weeks: forecast

STOCKHOLM, Nov. 26 (Xinhua) -- The second wave of Sweden's COVID-19 epidemic will peak in mid-December, according to a new forecast from the country's Public Health Agency Thursday.

The forecast, presented at a news conference, was based on a mathematic model using data of COVID-19 cases reported between Aug. 24 and Nov. 6. It showed projections of the development of the epidemic up until March 2021 and suggested that a peak infection rate has already been reached in the 0-19 age group.

Johan Carlson, director general of the Public Health Agency, said at the news conference that even if the curve may start to go down two weeks from now, "there is still a long way to go." Swedes, he said, must stick to the current restrictions and recommendations.

"We are hopeful that we will be able to impact the development, but I want to emphasize that this is a mathematical model which requires full compliance with the measures taken in order to be borne out," Carlson said.

At a separate news conference on Thursday, state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said the current eight-person limit for public gatherings will probably remain in place for a couple of months but that a general travel ban is not likely. Instead, trips to Swedish ski resorts can go ahead during the winter season, but one has to travel "responsibly", Tegnell said, adding that the Public Health Agency is currently in talks with ski resorts regarding safety measures.

The Agency also announced new guidelines for using rapid COVID-19 tests in health care and elderly care settings. The tests can generate a result within 15 minutes, but Karin Tegmark Wisell, head of the Agency's department of microbiology, warned that they should be used "with caution" as a negative result is not a guarantee for virus-free. A second test is needed to establish that, she added.

So far, Sweden has recorded 236,355 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 6,622 deaths.

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