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Swedish police, transport sector report massive staff crunch

Stockholm, Jan 20 (IANS) In the wake of the Covid-19 resurgence in Sweden, the country’s police and the transportation are witnessing a massive staff shortage as many of them have been infected with the virus.

“All employers and organisations, including critical services, are under strain,” Xinhua news quoted Svante Werger of the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency as saying to the Swedish Television on Wednesday.

Ten per cent of the Swedish police force, some 3,000 individuals, were off sick or in self-isolation on Wednesday, Radio Sweden reported.

Some smaller police stations even had to close.

“The situation is strained in some precincts and we are on the verge of not being able to keep the business running,” Patrik Danielsson, Health and Safety representative at the Swedish Police Union, told Radio Sweden.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the National Operations Department told Swedish Television the police force is prepared to transfer personnel and reprioritise tasks to cope with the situation.

Swedish Television also reported that about 10 per cent of bus drivers are off sick in the Varmland region which has resulted in the cancellation of between 40 and 50 departures per day.

“It is a serious situation,” Mikael Bergman, traffic manager of the regional bus service, told Swedish Television.

The rapid spread of the Omicron variant was also reflected in the latest statistics released by the Swedish Public Health Agency on Wednesday.

The cumulative number of confirmed infections has surpassed 1.7 million — an increase of around 200,000 in just one week.

On Wednesday, the agency also recorded the highest daily number of new infections — nearly 43,000 in a population of 10.4 million.

The number of people getting tested for Covid-19 has also surged dramatically.

Several of the country’s administrative regions have hit maximum testing capacity and therefore urged the public to only get tested if strictly necessary.

On Tuesday, several medical professionals, including the chairman of the Stockholm Medical Association, said that testing had become “meaningless”, as virtually everyone with symptoms is infected, and test results now take up to a week.



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