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Sweden to ease COVID-19 restrictions for those who've been vaccinated

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A nurse draws up the vaccine of the manufacturer Moderna against the coronavirus.
A nurse draws up the vaccine of the manufacturer Moderna against the coronavirus.   -   Copyright  Friso Gentsch/dpa via AP
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Sweden's Public Health Agency (FoHM) says that some COVID-19 restrictions will be eased for those citizens who have been vaccinated.

Elderly people who have had their first shot of the vaccine may socialise with people outside their inner circle three weeks after receiving the jab.

"Vaccinated citizens may meet people from a few different households and also indoors," the agency said in a statement.

"The changes include allowing vaccinated people to spend time with children and grandchildren indoors without keeping a distance, provided they are symptom-free."

Communal activities in Swedish care homes could also resume, the authorities added, as long as the recommended procedures are followed.

"Once vaccination of elderly people and their household contacts, as well as health care staff working closely with this risk group, has been completed, joint activities in specialised homes and daycare activities can resume," the FoHM said.

"Vaccinated elderly people can make visits outside the home, for example to relatives and service facilities."

The three-week delay until citizens can socialise has been used as guidance because the body has developed "a good level of protection" by then, the authority added. FoHM has also reiterated that vaccinated people should still avoid congested public spaces.

Around one in five Swedish citizens have so far received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, but authorities are warning that the easing of restrictions will remain "gradual".

"Vaccination coverage is now good in special care homes and home care services," the FoHM said.

"At the same time, the spread of infection continues at a high level, putting a strain on health and social care services."

"It will take time before vaccination coverage is so high in all groups that major reductions can be achieved in the whole society."

The Public Health Agency underlined that it was of the "utmost importance" that vaccinated citizens also follow the inoculation schedule and receive a second dose so that they have "long-lasting" protection against the virus.

Some 400 COVID-19 patients are currently being treated at intensive care units in hospitals across Sweden, including an increasing number of cases in children and young adults.

Stockholm has targeted vaccinating all adults by August 15, but the plan has been hit by supply delays and the withdrawal of Johnson & Johnson from the EU.

Additional sources • AP