Sweden sees increase in COVID-19 cases, more expected over summer

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The last set of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) PCR tests are collected at the testing site as Sweden changes its approach towards coronavirus testing, in Svagertorp, Malmoe

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden is seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases and healthcare can expect an increase in pressure over the summer, the health minister said on Thursday.

"Quite a few are ill even though we are in the middle of the summer. We also see a small increase in the number of COVID-19 patients who need hospital care and intensive care," Minister of Health Lena Hallengren told a news conference.

"However, we don't see the type of impact we saw earlier in the pandemic, I want to stress that," she said.

Cases in Sweden are hard to track as testing is limited to people receiving healthcare but the Health Agency said it estimated infections were increasing by 30-40% for each of the last few weeks, but from low levels.

Hallengren did not present any restrictions but urged people to stay at home if sick.

On Thursday, 11 people with COVID-19 were treated at intensive care units, far from the over 500 patients at the peak of the first wave in 2020 but somewhat more than during past weeks.

A high level of vaccination and the spread of the milder omicron variant meant Sweden abolished all restrictions in spring. The country stood out early in the pandemic by opting for voluntary measures instead of lockdowns.

(Reporting by Johan Ahlander; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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