Sweden reports slight decrease in COVID-19 infections, but cautions snapback

STOCKHOLM, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- Swedish Public Health Agency said on Thursday that the number of COVID-19 infections is slightly decreasing in Sweden, while cautioning a risk of an increase again if compliance with regulations is not sustained, reported Swedish Television (SVT).

"We have a reduction at the national level. The trend seems to be continuing... the number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants is now 588," said Karin Tegmark Wisell, director of Department of Microbiology at the Public Health Agency, at a press conference, according to SVT.

"It is extremely important to see it as positive. But there are still a large number of cases and there are risks of increase if we do not adhere to the rules," she stressed.

SVT reported that the county administrative boards' reporting to the government showed a similar picture. Last week, 11 counties reported "slightly reduced spread of infection," compared with four facing "increased spread of infection." Furthermore, some counties reported that they were starting to open up, for example, sports activities and youth centers.

Irene Nilsson Carlsson from the National Board of Health and Welfare was quoted by SVT as saying that the occupancy rate in intensive care units (ICU) is now also declining, with 54 fewer patients at the ICU than last week. She added that despite a reduction in inpatient care, it's important to keep all routines to prevent a reversing trend.

On Thursday, Sweden's Public Health Agency said that 4,985 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported since Wednesday, bringing the total infections to 542,952. Meanwhile, 124 new deaths took the national death toll to 10,921.

As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in Sweden and other countries with the already-authorized COVID-19 vaccines.

Meanwhile, 237 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide -- 64 of them in clinical trials -- in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization on Jan. 15.

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