Covid-19 on Swedish Flag

Sweden Quickly Moves To Enforce New Lockdown Measures As Covid-19 Cases Rise 

If we think back to the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Sweden was one of the countries that the rest of the world was looking at for guidance in terms of combatting this deadly virus. The country was one of the only in the world that never imposed a lockdown during the first wave of the pandemic, however, now Sweden is implementing stricter measures as a second wave of infections is taking a toll on its citizens and hospitals. 

On Monday, the Swedish government announced that public gatherings of more than eight people are not allowed. This is a major shift for a country that has previously been relying on voluntary measures and guidance throughout this pandemic. Prime Minister Stefan Lofven announced the new gathering limits this week; previously the limit stated that gatherings had to be 50 people or less. 

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“This is the new norm for the entire society. Don’t go to gyms, don’t go to libraries, don’t host dinners. Cancel it all.”

The ban will begin being enforced on November 24th and is set to last for at least four weeks. Previously, Sweden was viewed as a vision of aspiration for other European countries that began seeing major new spikes in cases starting this summer. Many European countries of smaller sizes were able to recover from the first wave of infections more easily due to the smaller population densities, however, as those restrictions began to loosen, cases began to rise everywhere again, and now Sweden is no different. 

Most schools, businesses, bars, restaurants, and cafes, however, will be remaining open, despite some major international criticism from neighboring European countries who claim that those businesses and establishments are what led to the rise in cases in the first place. Sweden’s state epidemiologist Anders Tegnall defended the new strategy by claiming it was striking a “balance between public safety and protecting the economy.” 

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However, as we’ve seen in America, when you put protecting the economy within the plan to prevent Covid-19 from spreading, you’re likely to keep a multitude of establishments open that will lead to an increase in foot traffic and new cases. Schools, bars, and restaurants have proven to be amazing breeding grounds for this virus, as they all promote close contact and cross contamination. 

Government data has shown that the number of daily new confirmed cases started to rise again in Sweden in early October, and thus hospitalizations began increasing two to three weeks later.  Daily deaths also hit double digits in early November, which is fairly shocking for the country. 

Sweden recorded almost 6,000 new daily Covid-19 cases last week alone, bringing its total number of confirmed infections up to 177,355 and counting; for context Sweden has around 10 million residents. The death rate per capita in Sweden is also several times higher than any of its neighbors, however, countries like Denmark, Finland, and Norway have roughly half the population of Sweden each.

Europe Struggling To Cope With Massive Second Waves Of Covid-19 Cases

Europe is in the midst of a second wave of Covid-19 infections that’s worrying many experts who believe this could be much worse than the first round. The continent now accounts for 46% of global coronavirus cases, and nearly a third of total deaths related to the virus. 

Both France and Spain have issued states of emergency within the past month as a means of easing the pressure on their intensive care units. In France, according to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, more than half of all ICU beds are currently being occupied by Covid-19 patients. 

Dr. Jean-Francois Delfraissy is a senior French physician and the president of the scientific council that has been reporting to the government every week in regards to the pandemic. Delfraissy recently spoke with the press and warned of how intense this pandemic is actually getting for the country, and continent as a whole. 

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“France has lost control of the epidemic, there’s been more than 52,000 new cases reported this week but the council estimates that the true figure could well be closer to 100,000 daily cases, accounting for asymptomatic cases and those who haven’t been tested.”

Currently European countries are testing their citizens for the virus at rates much faster than the first wave back in the spring. New data from the UK also suggests that the antibodies present in individuals who have had Covid-19, that work to protect them from a potential second infection, begin to disappear after a couple of months, leaving all previous patients just as vulnerable as they were to start. 

European countries are also extremely popular tourist destinations, and during the summer Europe relies heavily on their tourism industry for keeping their economy afloat. This dependency caused some countries in Europe to relax their travel restrictions and reopen some of their borders domestically, and to nearby countries, after several months in lockdown. 

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This reopening, however, has unsurprisingly led to a lot of spikes in Covid-19 cases due to an overall sense of relaxation in terms of the virus.  The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control reported that “the median age of people infected declined from 54 during the period of January to May, down to 39 in June and July.” 

When September came around many experts worried about reopening schools and universities and they soon realized their worries were valid as almost a third of new coronavirus cases in Europe within the past two months were related to school re-openings. The number of individuals aged 65 and older who are currently suffering from Covid in France is six times as high as the number of infections in that demographic in September; there are also  five times as many hospitalizations. 

Italy is currently reporting 20,000 cases a day, and a rate of deaths that they haven’t seen since May. Across the continent all bars and restaurants are too close by 6 p.m. and all gyms, swimming pools, and movie theaters have been closed indefinitely. The biggest concern at the moment is the growing pressure Europe’s hospitals will face as cases continue to rise. 

The rate of Covid-related deaths in Europe has luckily declined greatly from where it was in the first wave of the pandemic, which shows that the country has a better grasp on treating the virus, however, the growing number of cases is still a major concern. Covid-19 cases are projected to hit record peaks across the whole globe this winter, so new procedures will likely be put into play in the coming weeks.

America Surpasses 1,000 Daily Covid-19 Deaths As Second Wave Fears Grow

The newest data regarding the daily death tolls is just a part of the ongoing trends occurring in America that is leading experts to believe a massive second wave is still to come with the virus.

Contract Tracing

Contact Tracers In Ireland Express Concern Over Future Outbreaks 

Contact tracers in Ireland have been working tirelessly since the pandemic began to make calls to individuals who are sick and trace possible public areas of exposure. Eamonn Gormley, a tracer working at the University College of Dublin described the extremely disheartening work that they do to the media recently, claiming that the sick individuals they talk to often sound worried about their health and fear for their loved ones that they may have infected. 

“In a lot of cases people were suffering from extreme physical distress, one person I talked to collapsed on the floor and we could hear them gasp for air.” 

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Gormely claims that calls like that are rather rare, but still stick with you. Contact tracers, in general, have the responsibility of notifying individuals who have tested positive for Covid-19 and getting as much information from them as possible in regards to what public spaces they entered within the time-frame of infection. 

In Ireland specifically, many infected people are revealing a multitude of locations they were in close contact with others in, and it’s raising some major concerns. Locations such as pubs, homes, schools, salons, and planes have all been listed recently from Irish individuals who are currently suffering from the coronavirus. 

Ireland saw a steady decrease in case numbers throughout the months of June and July, however, in August numbers began to rise by the hundreds. Within the past month the country saw 2,077 new cases appear; in total they’ve recorded around 31,800 infections and 1,800 deaths. The biggest concern at the moment, however, is the number of individuals that infected patients are claiming to have been around prior to being tested. 

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According to UCD’s tracing center, the average number of individuals a Covid-19 patient has claimed to be in close contact with is 10. Some patients have disclosed they’ve been around 25, 30, even 50 other people before receiving their results. The largest number so far has been 83 close contacts, according to Gormely.

Ireland is joining a growing list of European countries all experiencing major spikes in case numbers. Philip Nolan, the chair of the Irish Epidemiological Modeling Advisory Group, recently claimed that he’s greatly concerned over the lack of action in response to these spikes. 

“Case numbers appear to be growing exponentially and are likely to double every 10 to 14 days if every one of us does not immediately act to break chains of transmission of the virus.” 

Ireland has around 280 active contact tracers with hundreds more on standby. Over 1,000 calls are made every single day from centers located all throughout the country. In one center, the campus has 70 tracers spread out in three rooms. 20 of the tracers in that particular center are environmental health officials and the rest are volunteers. 

Tracers have a very specific code of conduct as well that bars them from expressing any judgement to those who have broken any quarantine rules of health and safety procedures. The goal is not to reprimand, but to gather as much information as possible so that individuals who need to quarantine, do. With the help of a new app as well, tracing has become even easier for these tracers as they continue to navigate this unpredictable pandemic. 

Florida State Coronavirus

Florida Continues To Report Massive Spikes In Covid-19 Case Numbers

Florida was one of the states that recently lifted its coronavirus lockdown, it’s also one of the states that’s seeing a massive surge in new Covid-19 cases due to that premature reopening. The Florida Department of Health reported an additional 3,286 cases of coronavirus this past Tuesday, bringing the entire state total to 103,503 cases. 

Medical experts in the state are attributing the rising numbers to younger Floridians participating in summer vacation activities, an increase in testing facilities which led to an increase in knowledge of case numbers, more social contact brought on by multiple businesses reopening to the public, and potentially the multiple large protests that have been occurring throughout the past month, however, the protests may have nothing to do with the rise in numbers according to experts

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Carlos Gimenez, mayor of Miami-Dade Count

Data compiled by researchers at Florida International University within the past two weeks has shown that in the Miami-Dade County, Florida’s most populated county (2.7 million residents), citizens are experiencing about 35 new cases of Covid-19 every day. A rise in hospitalizations, ICU visits, and ventilation use has also paralleled this increase in case numbers. 

“Municipalities received guidelines on reopening but they do not have guidelines on when to pull back, which is why it is so critical to monitor the cases closely before the hospitals and ICUs start to have capacity issues — which is something we have avoided so far in Miami-Dade County,” said Dr. Mary Jo Trepka.

While there isn’t a direct reason behind this increase in case numbers, health experts are attributing most of it to the reopening of Florida in general. Children are also now on summer vacation and were previously in quarantine for an extended amount of time, so it makes sense that they would want to be outside as much as possible, however, as the numbers show, the country just isn’t there yet. 

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Health experts have continued to urge Floridians, even with all the reopenings, to continue to wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash your hands, and stay home if you feel sick or symptomatic in any way. Florida as a state, however, does not legally require masks to be worn in public places, despite the state’s health department strongly recommending it. 

Florida is one of many states that are now reporting record-breaking single-day highs for new Covid-19 cases. One ICU unit in Miami-Dade county has already reported they’re at maximum capacity. 

“A week ago we had eight patients, none on a ventilator, and within 10 days we’re now at over 40-plus patients, four on ventilators. We’ve had to find a second Covid unit and are looking for a third Covid unit right now,” said Dr. Andrew Pastewski.

The biggest concern in Florida, and the rest of the country, is a second-wave of the virus occurring in the fall, as experts have warned that a second-wave would likely be much worse than what we’ve endured throughout the past few months; over 2 million cases of Covid-19 and over 120 million deaths. The reopenings of multiple states and the almost automatic spikes in case numbers two weeks after those reopenings is evidence enough that the US is nowhere close to ready to return to a life of normalcy, and this virus will continue to be a problem for the nation until a vaccine or proper drug treatment is discovered.

Corona Outbreak

Coronavirus Outbreak In Beijing, China Worries Health Officials

Beijing, China is reinstating strict lockdown measures and massive coronavirus testing after a brand new group of cases for Covid-19 appeared in the metropolitan’s vast food market. The government’s main concern is getting a full-on second wave of the virus, as many health care experts have warned that a second wave of the virus in general would likely be much worse than the first wave. 

Initially, Beijing reported 36 new cases of the virus as of Monday June 14th, combined with new cases that appeared last week that’s 79 new infected individuals. The cases are reportedly linked to the Xinfadi market in the southern part of the city. This market is mainly known for carrying fresh fruit and vegetables and has since been shut down. 

China’s government in general has had one of the quickest and most effective methods of containing the spread of this virus, especially when compared to how federal governments abroad have handled the pandemic. Beijing was considered to be one of China’s “safest” cities in regards to the virus after the country effectively stopped the spread of the virus a month ago. Now, the possibility of a second wave has their government scrambling. 

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Citizens, however, are already taking to social media to speak out against the “wartime measures” that the government is implementing in order to prevent a second wave. For example within the Fengtai district of Beijing, where the Xinfadi market is located, officials announced that the launch of a “wartime mechanism” as well as the creation of a command center would be made to curb the spread. 

The Global Times is a tabloid that recently took to Twitter to share a video of a paramilitary police force wearing intense gear and patrolling the market after it was shut down this past weekend. Authorities have also implemented a mandatory lockdown on 11 residential areas that are near the market. The lockdown in those areas is so strict that residents won’t be able to leave their property; all of their food and daily necessities will be delivered right to them. 

Beijing has also set up 193 testing facilities within its city alone and has since tested more than 76,000 residents; 59 tested positive. Fengtai district specifically has also collected test samples from almost 9,000 individuals who were working in the Xinfadi market, so far 6,000 of those samples have been tested as negative for the coronavirus. 

Within the testing they also were able to interview and contact-trace the virus based on each individual’s personal accounts. The Beijing government also released a public statement urging any citizen who visited the market self-quarantine for 14 days. 

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Public school classes were scheduled to resume this week in Beijing, but that has since been cancelled. Life in Beijing was reportedly almost completely back to normal before this week. Multiple businesses, schools, restaurants and malls reopened. This was a testament to China’s intense handling of the virus, as they essentially completely eradicated it before fully reopening. 

“There is no way Beijing becomes Wuhan 2.0. The world will see China’s powerful capacity in controlling the epidemic, including (the) government’s strong leadership, respect to science, public’s willingness to cooperate and nationwide coordination of control measures. We will win again,” Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of Global Times, wrote in a post.

Beyond just the market, Beijing authorities are still trying to trace the direct source of the outbreak. Initially the virus was detected on a chopping board for fish used by a seller of imported salmon at the market, which has led officials to fear that the virus contaminated a lot more citizens than they currently believe. 

Investigations are still underway, but if China’s response to these new cases is anything like their initial response to the pandemic, residents should be okay as long as they continue to listen to national health and safety guidelines.

Corona Virus 3D

Healthcare Officials Fear Massive Second-Wave Of Covid-19 After 19+ States Report Spikes In Cases

Weeks after stay-at-home orders have been lifted across the nation fears of an even worse second-wave of Covid-19 appear after 20+ states report record numbers of hospitalizations within this past week. Many scientists and health care experts are already claiming that states will have to go back under shut down within the next few months if the curve continues to increase at the rate that it is. 

The emphasis on re-closing these states lies in the fact that many of these experts strongly believe a second wave of the coronavirus will hit the US much harder than the first time; America’s now lost over 115,000 citizens, for comparison around 116,000 American lives were lost during World War 1. 

“The pandemic is far from over. More than 115,000 Americans have died from coronavirus, and hundreds more are dying from the virus every day. Covid’s not taking a summer vacation, it’s actually having new opportunities to spread,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases expert and professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

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The biggest concern over a second shutdown is the economic impact, as of right now more than 44 million Americans have lost their jobs since March when this pandemic initially began. Unfortunately, the fear over shutting down the economy again is driving the decision making in the White House, as more states and cities are continuing to open. 

Health care experts have been quick to point out that places like Hong Kong, China, and Singapore, have all had to endure a second wave of shutdowns due to new cases of Covid reappearing after they reopened. Japan’s second largest island, Hokkaido, also reopened too prematurely leading to a resurgence in cases, however, after their second shutdown they completely eradicated the island of the virus. 

If American citizens want to avoid a second shutting down of the economy, they simply need to continue to abide by the CDC’s health and safety guidelines, regardless of what establishments are reopening in their particular state. This virus is still very much a pandemic issue especially in America, which has been one of the most impacted countries in the world due to its casual response to the virus. 

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“People must observe the safety guidelines, social distancing must be observed. Face coverings in key places must be observed. We’ve got to take action now so that we avoid a shutdown in the future,” said top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow.

The more recent spikes in cases are likely due to the many Memorial Day Weekend gatherings that occurred a few weeks ago based on the timeline of how this virus works and moves; hence the emphasis on continuing to wear a mask and socially distant. 

The economic impact of a second-wave of shutdowns will likely destroy a majority of our economy unless our federal government takes more direct action to fund the proper resources and facilities to help combat this virus. However, we can still continue to do our part in remaining vigilant and protecting ourselves and loved ones from potential infection.

Positive COVID-19 Test

New Covid-19 Cases In China Spark Concerns For A Second-Wave

Coronavirus flare-ups in China and South Korea are prompting worldwide fears of a second-wave of the virus, especially considering China was one of the first countries to enact lockdown policies to fully flatten the curve. These new cases appearing in parts of Asia that have already almost fully recovered from the virus has other countries reconsidering reopening. To catch new infections and further trace the source of the virus, China is continuing to test its millions of residents. South Korea has also done the same and dispatched thousands of officers to help with the contact tracing. 

Other parts of Asia, such as Russia, are still coping with their first-wave of the virus. Russia specifically is still experiencing 10,000 new cases every day, making them the country with the second-highest number of confirmed infections worldwide; trailing the US which is the most infected. 

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Wuhan, China, where the virus is believed to originate from, is also mandating every resident gets tested again amid new cases appearing in China. Over the next 10 days authorities in China will be testing the 11 million Wuhan residents, which is a direct response to six new coronavirus cases appearing in the city. 

The reason they’re mandating such a heavy response to six cases is because those were the first new cases to appear after 35 days; Wuhan lifted their 76-day lockdown on April 8th. In South Korea authorities are also demanding that all clubs and bars in the capital city of Seoul close down again after more than 100 new cases appeared that were traced back to the establishments. In Seoul specifically more than 8,000 police have been deployed to assist with contact tracing over 11,000 residents. 

“If the government of Korea hadn’t done this, then there would be 119 people out there infecting other people. So that actually gets to the point of tracing people,” explained Dr. Jerome Kim, a leading epidemiologist in the country. 

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Back in Russia, healthcare professionals are coping with a hospital fire tragedy that killed four patients being treated for the coronavirus. This is the second fire to take place in a Russian hospital that’s been linked to faulty ventilator machines. President Vladimir Putin’s main spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, has also recently been hospitalized amid suspicion that he was also infected. Peskov is just one of many men in Putin’s inner circle who have tested positive after working in close-contact with the president. 

Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, is confident that “ the country is on a steady path to ending its epidemic. [Our] government may lift the national state of emergency for much of the country as soon as Thursday — more than two weeks earlier than the current May 31 expiry date.”

Tokyo is likely to remain under emergency declaration, especially considering all of the international workers/individuals who have been flying in and out of the city before this pandemic to plan the 2020 Summer Olympics. For now, like most aspects of this pandemic, only time will tell how much worse it’s going to get in Asia, and how much we should use their experiences to better ourselves as a country.