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Coronavirus: Sweden to text every phone in country about new Christmas COVID rules

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An public information sign wishing Merry Christmas and asking to maintain social distancing is seen in a pedestrian shopping street in Helsingborg, Sweden, Dec. 7, 2020.
An public information sign wishing Merry Christmas and asking to maintain social distancing is seen in a pedestrian shopping street in Helsingborg, Sweden, Dec. 7, 2020.   -   Copyright  Johan Nilsson / TT via AP
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Every mobile number in Sweden is to receive a text message on December 14 with recommendations to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic over the holiday period.

The SMS from the country's public health agency will read: "Information from the authorities: Follow the stricter advice to stop the spread of COVID-19. Read more on the Crisis Information website."

It will be sent on Monday when new restrictions on socialising come into force, the authority said in a statement on Friday.

Max Faxalv, a student at Lund University and part-time software engineer, told Euronews that the measure is positive but doubted its usefulness.

"Everybody will read it, but few will react," he said. "The reality is that people already know the recommendations from the dozens of other communication channels and that people talk about it every single day: Keep your distance, work from home, take a test if feeling sick. I don't think the contents of the SMS will be any different."

"I am confident people will prioritise Christmas over the pandemic. Yes, we will indeed see smaller gatherings than normal, however, I still think we will see a lot of travel," he added.

Sweden is among the few countries worldwide not to have imposed a national lockdown in the spring when the first wave of the deadly pandemic unfurled globally and it has continued to eschew that option through the second wave.

But authorities called for greater restraint last week and banned gatherings of more than eight people. It also urged people to meet outside whenever possible and to avoid new contacts and travel, especially on public transport.

The Scandinavian country of 10.2 million inhabitants has registered more than 312,000 confirmed infections and 7,354 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

Its 14-day cumulative incidence rate currently stands at four cases per 100,000, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) — among the 10 lowest in the region.