SHARE
COPY LINK

SMS

Sweden to send mass text to population on Christmas Covid rules

Sweden's public health agency is to send out text messages to every mobile phone number in the country hoping to drum home recommendations designed to prevent an explosion of infection over Christmas and the New Year.

Sweden to send mass text to population on Christmas Covid rules
Morgan Olofsson, communications chief for MSB, Home Minister Mikael Damberg and Digital Minister Anders Ygeman announce the texts at a press conference on Friday. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT
“We are now in a difficult situation ahead of Christmas and New Year and we want to give the Swedish people yet another reminder,” Sweden's home minister Mikael Damberg said at a press conference announcing the mass text on Friday morning. 
 
Sweden's Public Health Agency last Tuesday issued new guidelines which come into force on Monday December 14th, requesting that people in Sweden limit their socialising over the festive period if possible to a bubble of eight people, avoid new contacts, meet outside as much as possible, and avoid public transport as much as possible.
 
 
The mass text messaging is being done together with Sweden's four biggest telecoms operators, Telia, Tele2, Telenor and Tre. According to the TT newswire, there are about 22 million mobile phone contracts in the country of 10 million people. 
 
“They have come forward voluntarily to help carry this out practically. They are performing an important service to reduce the spread of infection in Sweden,” said digitalisation minister Anders Ygeman. 
 
The text in the SMS, in Swedish, will read: “Information from the authorities: Follow the new tighter advice in order to stop the spread of infection. Read more on the Krisinformation website.” 
 
It will not itself mention any of the actual recommendations for Christmas, instead enjoining recipients to go online and check up on what they are. 
 
At the press Damberg reiterated that, although there are no fines or other sanctions for not following the recommendations, they should not be seen as voluntary.  
 
“The recommendations from the agencies aren't some kind of tips for the public — they should be followed,” he said. 
 
At the press conference Morgan Olofsson, the crisis preparedness agency's communication chief, said that the text messages “obviously and unfortunately” could only be sent out in Swedish and encouraged Swedes with an immigrant background and good Swedish language skills to translate the message for those who understand Swedish less well.  
 
“We think this way — if all of you who read this message, if you help, in your language to the extent that you can, to  spread the message further, then everyone will understand how serious the situation is, and that way we can save lives,” he said. 
 
The Krisinformation website itself contains links to information about the coronavirus in Sweden in other languages, which you can find here. The Local has also published a Q&A about what the rules mean in English.

 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

COVID-19

Did Sweden’s state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

For his supporters, it was well-deserved, for his detractors a case of failing upwards. But when Sweden's Public Health Agency announced this month that state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell was taking a job at the World Health Organisation, both sides assumed it was true.

Did Sweden's state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

Now, it seems, the job might not be there after all. 

At the start of this month, Sweden’s Public Health Agency announced that Anders Tegnell was resigning to take up a post coordinating vaccine work with the World Health Organisation in Geneva. 

“I’ve worked with vaccines for 30 years and have at the same time always been inspired by international issues,” Tegnell said in the release. “Now I will have the chance to contribute to this comprehensive international work.”

During the first and second waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, Tegnell shot immediately from obscurity into the spotlight, gaining such celebrity status in Sweden that one fan had his profile tattooed onto his arm.

Internationally he was hailed by lockdown sceptics for his reasoned arguments against overly restrictive measures to control the spread of the virus. 

His new WHO appointment was reported all over the world. 

But on Tuesday, the Svenska Daglabdet newspaper revealed that the job had not yet been awarded. A spokesperson for the WHO said at a press conference in Geneva that “there is some confusion”, and that “this is an internal question.” 

According to the newspaper, there is even “a certain level of irritation” behind the scenes at the WHO that Sweden acted too soon and dispatched Tegnell to a job that did not actually exist yet. 

“We have received an offer from Sweden, which is still under discussion,” the organisation’s press spokesperson, Fadela Chaib, told the newspaper. 

On Thursday, the Public Health Agency’s press chief Christer Janson conceded that there had been a mistake and that the negotiation had not been completed.  

“We believed it was done, but it wasn’t,” he told Expressen in an interview. “It’s been a much longer process to get this completed than we thought. There’s been a misunderstanding and we regret that.” 

SHOW COMMENTS