Gällivare is about 100 km inside the Arctic Circle in northern Sweden. Map: Barents Observer / Google maps

"Uncontrolled outbreak" says city in northern Sweden and imposes lockdown

Gällivare is now as bad as Stockholm in regards to COVID-19 infections.
June 17, 2020

“We have an uncontrolled and dangerous to society spread of COVID-19 in the municipality,” reads the alarm text by local authorities in Gällivare, a mining town with about 18,000 inhabitants above the Arctic Circle.

The municipal crisis group decided Wednesday morning to shut down most non-essential public services like sport-halls, swimming pool, library and museums. No cultural arrangements are allowed, the alarm message reads.

Also, the regional public bus company is asked to stop services to and from Gällivare.

More emergency measures are expected to be introduced as the crisis group meets later on Wednesday.

“Gällivare now has the county’s highest number of infected people,” says Stefan Nieminen, communication manager with the crisis group to Swedish Television. The situation in the town is now as bad as Stockholm at its worst, concludes the Swedish broadcaster

Dramatic outbreaks are reported from both local retirement homes and among workers at LKAB mining company.

Regional authorities in Norrbotten informs about 55 new cases since yesterday, bringing the total number of infections in the county up to 800 people.

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63 persons have died of the coronavirus in Norrbotten since the start of the outbreak.

Sweden’s coronavirus strategy has been highly different from its Nordic neighbors. The country was the only EU member state not to shut down the society in the start of the outbreak and today faces the highest per capita death rates in the world.

Health authorities advise everyone to avoid social events, keep distance to others, and to stay home if they have any symptoms. With 102 new deaths on June 17, the total number has now passed 5,000, the Public Health Agency in Stockholm informs.

53,323 people have tested positive to COVID-19. 

Medical doctor Anders Nystedt points the finger of blame at Malmberget, the local mine operated by LKAB, when identifying the source of the local outbreak.

“It was in the mine the wildfire started. No doubt about that,” Nystedt says in an interview with SVT Norrbotten.

Illustration photo: Thomas Nilsen

 

Head of communication with LKAB, Fredrik Björkwnwall, says one should be careful with pointing the blame at one single company as the source for the spread of the infection.

He points to well known facts that the virus in the early phase spread quickly in the elderly care.

 

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