COVID-19 on the rise in Swedish cities as Delta outbreaks dominate

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A health worker vaccinates an elderly woman with Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine at a temporary vaccination clinic in a church in Sollentuna, north of Stockholm, Sweden March 2, 2021. Fredrik Sandberg/TT News Agency/via REUTERS

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STOCKHOLM, July 23 (Reuters) - Cases of COVID-19 have increased in Sweden's main cities with the more contagious Delta having emerged as the dominant variant in the country, health authorities said on Friday, though it added infection levels nationally remained low.

Sweden reported 1,855 new cases of COVID-19 last week, a 24% increase compared to the previous week. Around a quarter of new cases were linked to travel abroad, the heath authority said.

"The number of cases nationally of Covid-19 continues to be at a low level, but an increase is seen in all metropolitan regions," the authority said in a statement, adding that 75% of Sweden's adult population had now received at least one dose of vaccine.

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After suffering a third wave during the spring, infection rates, hospitalisations and deaths in the disease fell rapidly during the early summer with the vaccine roll-out and warmer weather seen having helped bring down the spread.

Sweden pressed ahead last week with easing pandemic restrictions, though, faced by the spread of new variants of the virus, the government also urged citizens to keep to social distancing recommendations. read more

The Nordic country has relied mainly on voluntary measures to stem the spread of infections, though curbs on opening hours for restaurants and limits on crowds at venues such as shopping malls have also been periodically enforced.

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Reporting by Colm Fulton; editing by Niklas Pollard

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