Intensive care units in the Stockholm region reached 99 percent capacity this week for the first time during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to Sweden’s public broadcaster.
“We need help,” said Bjorn Eriksson, the region’s health and medical care director, according to Sveriges Radio. Health officials in the region have called on the nation’s Board of Health and Welfare for additional medical staff to treat infected patients.
Eriksson this week called on Stockholm residents not to “go for after-work drinks, Christmas shopping, or see people outside your immediate households” as cases spike in the city, adding that “the consequences could be terrible.”
The Scandinavian country broke with other European nations earlier this year by not imposing a nationwide lockdown early on in the coronavirus pandemic.
A second wave of COVID-19 cases has hit the country in recent months. Sweden reported 7,000 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, bringing their total to over 300,000 cases.
The country has documented at least 7,296 fatalities.
The Swedish government indicated this week that it will seek approval from the country’s Parliament to close malls and gyms in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.
Late last month, Sweden’s top infectious disease expert warned that the country has not seen evidence of herd immunity reducing the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
This came after advocates of herd immunity had pointed to Sweden as an example, citing the country’s unwillingness to implement lockdown measures inhibiting public life to stop the virus’s spread.
Herd immunity is the point at which a disease stops spreading widely in a population, either due to vaccination or from residents recovering from infections.