COVID-19 cases exceed half a million in Sweden

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STOCKHOLM, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- COVID-19 cases exceeded half a million in Sweden, according to official figures released on Tuesday, as the country is struggling to contain the spread of the disease under new restrictive rules.

The Swedish Public Health Agency said Tuesday that 17,395 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported since Friday, bringing the country's total number of cases to 506,866. Meanwhile, there have been 234 new deaths registered since Friday, bringing the total death toll to 9,667 in Sweden.

On Friday, Sweden introduced, among a series of tougher restrictions, a maximum limit for private events as COVID-19 infections continue to soar. The new rules allow a maximum of eight people at private events in, for example, a party room, while indoor venues such as gyms, bathhouses and shops will also have strict capacity limitations.

Moreover, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said measures of closing down department stores and malls could kick in if the risk of infections is considered high and existing restrictions deemed insufficient.

Also on Tuesday, the Swedish Public Health Agency said at least 80,000 people in Sweden, about 0.8 percent of its population, have been vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Sunday.

Minister for Health and Social Affairs Lena Hallengren told Swedish Television on Tuesday that the country still needed to remain at a high level of tests, about 170,000 tests per week, despite the ongoing vaccination.

As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in Sweden and some other countries with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.

Meanwhile, 236 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide -- 63 of them in clinical trials -- in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by WHO on Jan. 12. Enditem

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