Sweden: Coronavirus update

Yesterday afternoon I went to an exhibition centre close to where I live. I’m not sure it has had an exhibition all year and there certainly wasn’t one when I visited. Instead one of the halls had been converted into a mass blood testing facility. A stream of people, two metres apart, steadily made their way up the elevators and through the system to have their blood taken for an antibody test for COVID-19.

Back in the beginning of March, I developed some but not all of the symptoms for coronavirus. I didn’t have a fever or a cough but for two weeks I had a tightness in my chest that was hot. I was constantly pressing my hand to my chest to relieve some of the pressure I felt. Then I developed muscle fatigue in my legs. I’d stopped running but the only way I can describe it, was that for a week it felt like I’d run 20k every day when all I’d done was go the kitchen.

I actually felt OK so mostly just carried on working at home except for a few days here and there. I ended up being busy learning video editing and livestreaming. Two things I’d never previously thought about.

However, oddly enough, it was only when I was felt better enough to start running again that I realised how tough it had been on my lungs. I was gassed over short distances, I laboured up hills, I had no sprint, nothing. The tank was empty and my lungs were shredded. I reckon it took about a month or more to begin to feel ‘normal’ again.

But at the time Sweden was only testing people sick enough to need admitting into a hospital and that wasn’t me by a long shot. I’ve been saying I think I’ve had this blasted virus but I don’t know for sure. Now, perhaps in a few days time, I will. Although maybe not, perhaps the antibodies have gone after three months. I’m not sure anyone really knows enough for sure.

I went to the test after having lunch with some friends at their house. We talked about wearing masks (hardly anyone does here in Sweden), reopening their offices, restarting our church services, and how their family was doing in Brazil. It all felt normal except for our topics of conversation which constantly returned to some aspect of life that has been affected by the virus.

The situation in Sweden seems relatively stable and people are adjusting accordingly. In fact, Sweden just recorded its first week with no excess mortality since the beginning of the outbreak. However, life is not normal. A new outdoor swimming pool recently opened close to my home, that should be able to cater to up to 3,000 visitors. They’ve capped it at 300. Although I have to say I prefer going when the number is closer to 10.

Social distancing signs are everywhere, perspex glass in front of every cashier, hand sanitizer at the shop entrances and exits. But no masks. And those who are wearing masks, especially if they look foreign (most seem to be Asians) have been running into some abuse. Although to be fair I’ve seen Asians where masks in Sweden even before this pandemic. I was baffled by it then, slightly bemused by it now.

The question came up as we’ve begun planning for physical services again for Grace Church, will we ask people to wear masks? The WHO have recommended it but the Swedish authorities haven’t. My personal opinion is that the situation here seems stable and steadily improving so if we’re passed the worst why start wearing masks now? That would seem a strange move.

Church will look different as we keep under the government-imposed limit of 50, which means that we’ll have 5 consecutive 1-hour services with 30 minutes in between to get one group out and the next group in.

We’ll also be starting our third different language service (English, Swahili and now Kinyabwisha) which is exciting and we’ll be experimenting a little bit with different approaches at different times plus live streaming still. All this in a new venue, as our previous venue remains closed to visitors.

Sounds busy, which is why I’m off on holiday.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.