Coronavirus: Sweden plans to test people with milder symptoms, essential workers

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Sweden said Tuesday it would make coronavirus testing available to people with milder symptoms as well as those working in critical services to avoid keeping them needlessly at home.

Read the latest updates in our dedicated coronavirus section.

Sweden has not imposed the extraordinary lockdown measures seen across Europe but has urged people to follow official recommendations and behave responsibly.

Tests in the country have so far have mostly been limited to patients in need of hospital care and healthcare staff.

Read also: Sweden takes different approach to tackling the outbreak as numbers rise

"We can't have a situation where people stay at home at the slightest symptom if they don't need to be home," Health Minister Lena Hallengren said.

The government currently recommends that anyone with coronavirus symptoms should stay home.

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Tests are currently distributed according to a tiered priority system.

Patients in hospital and those in risk groups are considered the highest priority, followed by healthcare staff and then staff in different critical services, such as law enforcement and infrastructure.

Read also: Coronavirus: Sweden built herd immunity without lockdown, now the world follows suit

Hallengren said people with symptoms that need care but not hospitalization should be included in the top priority.

In mid-April the Swedish government said it planned to dramatically increase testing of up to 100,000 people a week, but it has struggled to roll out the plan.

"The testing capacity is there, but there are still difficulties with the logistics around it," Harriet Wallberg, who was named the country's test coordinator in early May, told reporters.

More than 32,000 tests were carried out last week, and samples from nearly 210,000 people have been tested so far.

Sweden on Tuesday reported there were a total of 30,799 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus and 3,743 deaths.

According to website Worldometer, Sweden's virus death rate stood at 371 per million inhabitants on Tuesday, compared to neighboring Norway's 43, Denmark's 95, and Finland's 54, all who have adopted much stricter containment measures.

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