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Sweden to lift ban on visits to elderly care homes

Sweden to lift ban on visits to elderly care homes

Sweden’s government announced its readiness to lift another ban caused by the COVID-19 epidemics. The nationwide ban on visits to elderly care homes will be lifted on October 1st, the Cabinet said on Tuesday.

Swedish Health Minister Lena Hallengren announced the decision not to extend a nationwide ban on visits to care homes for elderly people when it expires on October 1st, The Local Sweden says.

The Swedish government based its decision on advice from the National Board of Health and Welfare (NBHW) and the Public Health Agency (PHA). According to the decreased rate of infection, the situation is improving. In fact, over a few months of the lockdown and chaos, the Swedish care homes have been better equipped to handle testing and hygiene procedures, the Health Minister noted during Tuesday briefing.

The ban was introduced on April 1st as a measure to curb the spread of the novel pathogen among vulnerable risk groups, and it has been extended several times.

“But the danger is not over. The visitor bears great responsibility,” said Olivia Wigzell, director-general of the NBHW. According to her, the board had elaborated binding regulations for visits, including that all care homes have to carry out a risk analysis so that they can adapt their work to safely allow visitors.

In Sweden, corona swept through many of care homes at the early stages of the pandemic. A large number of the country’s almost 6,000 fatalities took place in elderly care homes in spring. But since then, Covid-19 deaths in care homes have dropped significantly, partly thanks to the ban.

Despite the improvement of the health situation, the concerns have also been raised that the ban is at this point causing more health problems than it resolves. Swedish health authorities are worried that it is leading to increased isolation and loneliness among people, many of whom are very old and vulnerable, who have not been able to receive visitors as normal.