Swedish PM tells Swedes to take responsibility in national address on coronavirus

FILE PHOTO: Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven speaks during a news conference after the second day of the European Union leaders summit, held to discuss the EU's long-term budget for 2021-2027, in Brussels, Belgium, February 21, 2020. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/File Photo

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven in a rare live television address to the nation on Sunday evening called on all Swedes to play their part in stopping the spread of the coronavirus.

Sweden on Sunday had 1,906 confirmed cases of the respiratory disease - or 17 per 100,000 citizens - and 21 deaths.

“We all now have great individual responsibility,” Lofven said. “There will be a few decisive moments in life when you must make sacrifices, not only for your own sake but also to take responsibility for those around you, for your fellow humans and for our country. That moment is now. That day has come.”

The number of patients in intensive care has risen steeply in Stockholm over the past days and healthcare officials have voiced concerns over staff shortages and said there was a risk of an imminent shortage of some protective gear for staff.

“Everyone must do their part and it goes also for you who are above 70 or part of another risk group. I understand it’s frustrating to have to confine your life, your social interactions,” said Lofven, a Social Democrat.

“But it is right now necessary - for your own health of course but also to protect others and allow for the health services to cope with the situation.”

Sweden has closed high schools and universities and banned public gatherings of more than 500 people, and authorities recommended that people above 70 limit their contact with others.

“I want you to be prepared that more invasive decisions may come, at times with short notice and at times measures that disrupt everyday life even more,” Lofven said.

Across the world, more than 305,000 are confirmed infected by the virus and more than 13,000 have died.

Reporting by Anna Ringstrom; Editing by Catherine Evans and Peter Cooney