Work in the areas of public health, medical care, social care and social insurance with regard to the COVID-19 virus
There is now an ongoing outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which causes the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The Swedish Government is following developments carefully and is in continuous contact with the responsible authorities. Below is a selection of the Government’s decisions and initiatives that have been taken so far in the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs’ areas.
Responsible authorities instructed to limit the spread of infection
The Public Health Agency of Sweden coordinates communicable disease control at national level and provides daily updates regarding the situation in Sweden. The National Board of Health and Welfare supports and coordinates the health and medical care preparedness of the various regions. The Government is in daily contact with these agencies. The Government has issued the National Board of Health and Welfare and the Public Health Agency of Sweden several instructions on limiting the spread of SARS-CoV-2. The Government will ensure that the expert agencies and the health and medical care system have the resources necessary to limit the spread of the virus.
Delivery of face masks to medical care services
On 19 March, the National Board of Health and Welfare signed a contract a medical and safety technology company to secure sizable deliveries of face masks to Swedish medical care services.
“Some 200 000 extra face masks per month is a substantial increase on current deliveries. This is a significant contribution in this situation. It is a long-term solution, based on domestic Swedish production,” says Minister for Health and Social Affairs Lena Hallengren.
More intensive care beds in hospitals
The Government has instructed the National Board of Health and Welfare to establish a coordination function for intensive care beds. Regions around the country are working to increase intensive care capacity. As national coordinator, the task of the National Board of Health and Welfare therefore concerns supporting the work to meet the needs at national level. The National Board of Health and Welfare is to gain a picture of the national situation with regard to existing intensive care beds and access to intensive care beds from public and private care providers. The Board is also to support the regions in coordinating and increasing the number of beds.
National procurment centre for protective equipment and medical equipment
The National Board of Health and Welfare has been appointed as the national procurment centre for medical equipment, protective equipment and certain medico-technical equipment. Minister for Health and Social Affairs Lena Hallengren and Minister for Business, Industry and Innovation Ibrahim Baylan have met with the manufacturing industry and discussed what equipment it can deliver.
Sick pay standard deduction discontinued and medical certificate requirement suspended
The Government has proposed to temporarily discontinue the sickness benefit standard deduction. This means that sick pay is paid from the first day at home. The purpose of this change is to encourage people to stay at home even when they have mild symptoms.
Employees are to be able to receive compensation for the sickness benefit standard deduction from the Swedish Social Insurance Agency. This applies during the period from 11 March until 31 May 2020.
To relieve the pressure on the health and medical care system, the Government has proposed to temporarily suspend the medical certificate requirement from the eighth day of sickness. This applies from 13 March until further notice.
Information to social services personnel
On 12 March, the Government decided to instruct the National Board of Health and Welfare to disseminate information on SARS-CoV-2 to all social services personnel: support and service for persons with certain functional impairments, personal assistance and elderly care.