Sweden introduces tighter restrictions to halt surging coronavirus cases

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By Tokunbo Salako  & Per Bergfors Nyberg  with AP
Cyclists commute through central Malmo
Cyclists commute through central Malmo   -  Copyright  AFP

Sweden appears to be changing course on its strategy to stop the spread of COVID-19 after previously favouring lighter measures compared to the rest of Europe.

New infections and hospital admissions have surged across the country as it fights a second wave of the virus.

Officials had hoped their approach without a national lockdown would mitigate the increase but Sweden is now reporting 166,707 cases and 6,082 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

After on Thursday rolling out local coronavirus measures in four regions, a total of 17 of Sweden's 21 regions are currently subject to stricter measures, issued by the Public Health Agency.

Pior to this, Sweden introduced new measures last Tuesday, limiting capacity in restaurants and cafes but has so far opted not to impose national lockdown restrictions.

A nationwide ban on alcohol after 10 pm in restaurants, bars and nightclubs is among the new measures being brought in to curb coronavirus spread.

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven says the restriction is being introduced to help ease the burden on the country's health care system and intensive care wards.

This week, the Swedish capital, Stockholm, reintroduced a ban on people visiting their loved ones in elderly care homes.

However, for now, authorities are not considering recommending Swedes wear face masks, according to Euronews reporter Per Bergfors Nyberg. 

He says Swedish health officials believe making masks mandatory will give people a "false sense of security" and could make matters worse.

For more on this you an watch our full report in the above video player.