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Protesters holding a demonstration in Stockholm in March against vaccinations and lockdowns amid a ban on meetings of more than eight people in a group, which the protesters violated. Photo: Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images

One of Sweden's most populous regions has asked residents to enter a "personal lockdown" in order to curb soaring COVID-19 cases, Euronews reported Wednesday.

Why it matters: Sweden's more relaxed approach to the pandemic prompted libertarians and conservatives, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), to argue the U.S. should've adopted a similar strategy. But the country this week reported the highest infection rate in the EU.

By the numbers: Sweden reported a seven-day average of 625 new infections per million people, statistics published Tuesday by the scientific online publication OurWorldInData show.

What's happening: Mikael Köhler, health chief of the Swedish region of Uppsala, told Euronews regional health officials were asking each resident "to act like they are in a personal lockdown."

  • "If they have to meet other people ... everyone has to suspect that everyone they are meeting could be infected," he added.

The big picture: Patient numbers in Sweden's intensive care units have surged "past the peak of the second wave around the turn of the year," Reuters reports.

  • Sweden's chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said Tuesday there were "no signs of a decrease" in the spread officials were seeing, per Reuters.
  • While the country has never imposed a strict lockdown like other nations, it has introduced measures including international travel restrictions and limits on public gatherings to eight and restaurant tables to four.

For the record: Uppsala is one of 13 of the 21 regions in Sweden to have implemented stricter pandemic measures this spring, according to The Local.

  • "While this is a noticeably sharper tone, the actual recommendations in place in Uppsala remain the same, The Local notes.
  • This guidance includes staying 2 meters (6.5 feet) from others, wearing a face mask if you need to use public transport, don't meet up with people you don't live with and work from home "if you can," per The Local.

Flashback: Coronavirus helps drive Sweden death tally to highest in 151 years

Go deeper

New coronavirus cases are rising in half the country

Expand chart
Data: CSSE Johns Hopkins University; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The number of new coronavirus infections in the U.S continues to rise, making a quick, clean end to the pandemic less and less likely.

The big picture: Much of the U.S. is relying almost exclusively on vaccines to control the virus, abandoning social distancing and other safety measures. And that’s helping the virus to steadily gain ground even as vaccinations barrel ahead.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Apr 14, 2021 - Health

Why our brains struggle to understand risk

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The decision to pause the use of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine — and the furor that now surrounds it — underscores the confounding psychology behind risk assessment.

Why it matters: From vaccines to emerging technologies, the future will force us to make difficult, risk-based choices that our Stone Age brains are ill-equipped to handle, especially in an environment where social trust has evaporated.

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