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COVID-19 deaths top 4,000 in under-fire Sweden

first_imgState epidemiologist Anders Tegnell of the Public Health Agency stressed countries’ death tolls should be compared with caution.”In Sweden, anybody who has the diagnosis of COVID-19 and dies within 30 days after that is called a COVID-19 case, irrespective of the actual cause of death. And we know that in many other countries there are other ways of counting that are used,” he told AFP. Topics :  ‘Getting better’ Tegnell has repeatedly insisted that stricter measures would not have saved more Swedish lives.Three-quarters of those who have died have been either in nursing homes or receiving at-home care.Tegnell noted that a ban on visits to nursing homes was introduced in mid-March, but said elderly residents needed regular contact with their carers — who were believed to have spread the virus around many nursing homes.”I’m really not sure that we could have done so much more,” he said in a weekend interview with Swedish Radio, acknowledging nonetheless that the country had ended up in a “terrible situation that highlights the weaknesses of our elderly care.”He said care homes had initially failed to respect basic hygiene rules that could have curbed the spread of the disease, but said the situation had since improved.The Board of Health and Welfare meanwhile insisted Sweden’s nursing homes were functioning well. It noted that a total of 11,000 nursing home residents died in January-April this year, compared with 10,000 during the same period a year ago.And Tegnell told reporters Monday that the overall situation in Sweden “was getting better,” with a declining number of people being admitted to intensive care units, a drop in the number of cases being reported in nursing homes, and fewer deaths in nursing homes. According to AFP’s own database, Sweden’s virus death rate of 399 per million inhabitants is far higher than Norway’s 43 per million, Denmark’s 97, or Finland’s 55.However it is still lower than for France at 435 per million, Britain and Italy, both at 542, and Spain at 615.Critics have accused Swedish authorities of gambling with citizens’ lives by not imposing strict stay-at-home measures. But the Public Health Agency has insisted its approach is sustainable in the long-term and has rejected drastic short-term measures as too ineffective to justify their impact on society.The Scandinavian country has kept schools open for children under the age of 16, along with cafes, bars, restaurants and businesses, while urging people to respect social distancing and hygiene guidelines. Sweden, which has gained international attention for its softer approach to the coronavirus than many of its European neighbors, said on Monday its number of deaths passed the 4,000 mark.The Public Health Agency said it had recorded 4,029 deaths and 33,843 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the country of some 10.3 million inhabitants, with 90 percent of the deceased over the age of 70.Sweden’s death toll has far surpassed the tolls in neighboring Nordic countries, which have all imposed more restrictive containment measures.last_img read more

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UK roundup: Auto-enrolment, DWP, charge cap

first_imgDepartment for Work & Pensions (DWP) research has shown awareness of auto-enrolment among the UK population is increasing, as the programme’s rollout continues.Statistics from the government said 78% of those surveyed believed employers being compelled by law to provide pensions was a positive step.The research also found around 50% of those surveyed said saving into a workplace pension was a “normal thing to do”, in a boost to the government’s policy.Some 30% of those of working age have taken action as a result of the government’s advertising campaign for auto-enrolment, with around 25% having discussed second-pillar savings in a social environment. The news comes as the government announced 4m people had now been auto-enrolled into a workplace pension scheme since the programme began in October 2012.Pensions minister Steve Webb said: “Increasingly, people are waking up to the fact it pays to think about the future and consider the kind of retirement we want.“But we still have a mountain to climb. Recent DWP research found that close to half of working-age people are failing to save enough to maintain their standard of living into old age, so there is more to do.”In other news, the DWP’s charge cap, aimed at protecting members being auto-enrolled into default investment strategies, has come under fire from one of the UK’s largest insurance mutuals.Royal London Group (RLG) has told its shareholders the government grossly underestimated the impact estimates on pension companies.The cap, which comes into force in April 2015, stops member-borne charges in DC auto-enrolment default investment funds being above 75 basis points.The government estimates that, at the time of legislating, said industry revenue would be reduced by £200m (€250m) over a 10-year period.Chief executive of RLG, Phil Loney, said the policy would have the opposite consequence to its intention.“This government intervention will only distort a market that was already moving in favour of lower charges,” he said.He said the impact at his own firm, plus other impact provisions from other pension providers, showed the DWP’s estimates to be incorrect.Royal London said the £200m estimate could realistically increase to as high as £1bn.“This seems to me to be an unacceptable margin for error in the government’s understanding of the impact of its actions and the size of the impact,” Loney said.Despite the estimated £200m hit on the entire industry, insurers Standard Life and Scottish Widows have each already stated individual provisions of £160m and £100m, respectively.last_img read more

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Gerrard comments on Real Madrid move.

first_imgAhead of tonights clash with Real Madrid Liverpol captain Steven Gerrard admits he may regret not joining the Spanish giants.The 34 year old Reds skipper Gerrard says he refused Real approaches on a few occasions over the years.Arsenal are in Belgium to face Anderlecht. Calum Chambers is available after a domestic ban, while forward Lukas Podolski has overcome an illness.last_img