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Sweden introduces new Covid curbs

Stockholm, Jan 11 (IANS) Sweden has announced tighter restrictions following a rapid increase in the number of new Covid-19 cases.

Working from home will once again be the norm as of Wednesday, and the number of participants allowed at indoor events will be lowered to 500, reports Xinhua news agency.

Meanwhile, restaurants will have to close by 11 p.m.

Existing restrictions include the requirement to present a vaccination certificate in order to attend larger events, and the recommendation that face masks should be worn on crowded buses and trains.

"There is no doubt that the situation has worsened, as the spread of infection in Sweden is at historically high levels," Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said at a press conference.

"I want to strongly emphasize that everyone who can work from home should do it," she added.

Last week, the number of confirmed cases within a 24-hour period reached record levels twice.

The King and Queen of Sweden, as well as the Crown Princess and her husband, are among those who have recently been infected.

The demand for tests has also increased dramatically, forcing at least one of Sweden's regions to send tests to Germany to be analysed.

The infection rate among vaccinated individuals has also increased, the Swedish Public Health Agency's Director-General Karin Tegmark Wisell said at the press conference.

"We are in a situation where the spread of infection is increasing sharply, and the new Omicron variant has proven to be very contagious even for those who are vaccinated with two doses, although it then usually results in very mild disease. To slow down the spread of infection, contact throughout the population needs to be reduced," she said.

She also urged the 14 per cent of the population aged 12 and older that has not yet had their first jab to roll up their sleeves.