A top Swedish official involved in the coronavirus response has defended a Christmas holiday in the Canary Islands in the face of heavy criticism.
Dan Eliasson is head of the civil contingencies agency, which earlier in December had texted all Swedes urging them to avoid travel.
He was photographed in Las Palmas airport on the island of Gran Canaria.
Mr Eliasson insisted the trip was necessary “for family reasons”.
He told Swedish media that he had “given up a lot of trips during this pandemic” but thought this one was necessary because he had a daughter living in the Canaries.
“I celebrated Christmas with her and my family,” he told Expressen newspaper. He also said he had been worked remotely while in the Canaries.
Sweden has had 437,000 confirmed cases and 8,700 deaths – many more than its Scandinavian neighbours. The country has never imposed a full lockdown.
However, alarmed by rising numbers of cases last month, the Swedish government reversed some of its guidance and sent a text message to all Swedes asking them to read updated guidelines.
The guidelines included asking Swedes to avoid unnecessary trips and not to make new contacts during a journey or at the destination.
Mr Eliasson was then photographed several times in Gran Canaria, including at the airport.
There have been calls for Mr Eliasson, an experienced official who has worked at several important departments, to be fired.
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and other ministers have not yet commented, according to Swedish media.
Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-55523587
Magdalena Andersson: Sweden’s first female PM returns after resignation
bbc– Sweden’s first female prime minister has been reappointed to the top job after political turmoil forced her to resign within hours of taking the post last week.
MPs backed Social Democratic Party leader Magdalena Andersson by a narrow margin in a new vote on Monday.
She will attempt to lead a one-party government until an election in September next year.
She stood down as PM last Wednesday after her coalition collapsed.
Just hours earlier, Ms Andersson had been elected as Sweden’s first female prime minister by a single vote in parliament.
But the 54-year-old economist’s plan for forming a new coalition government with the Green Party was thrown into disarray when her budget proposal failed to pass.
- Sweden’s first female PM resigns hours after appointment
Instead, parliament voted for a budget drawn up by a group of opposition parties, including the far-right Sweden Democrats.
The Green Party said it would not accept a budget drafted by the far-right and walked away from the government, leading to its demise.
By convention, the prime minister in Sweden is expected to resign if a coalition party leaves government.
In Monday’s vote in Sweden’s parliament, the Riksdag, 101 of its 349 members voted yes, 75 abstained and 173 voted no.
To be appointed prime minister under Sweden’s political system, a candidate only needs to avoid a majority voting against them.
At a news conference after the vote, Ms Andersson said she was ready to “take Sweden forward” with a programme focused on welfare, climate change and crime.
But without the support of other parties, Ms Andersson will struggle to pass legislation in parliament, where the centre-left Social Democrats hold 100 of 349 seats.
After a week of drama, Magdalena Andersson’s prime ministerial career is back on track, but Sweden’s political soap opera is far from over.
Ms Andersson still has to implement a budget put together by some of her right-wing rivals. Plus, she’s got to govern a fragile minority without the formal support of the Greens, who’ve been a crucial coalition partner since 2014.
All this has highlighted the complexities of having a deeply divided eight-party parliament. Some political commentators here are worried that Ms Andersson’s chaotic rise to power may have dented trust in the entire political system.
Once formed, Ms Andersson’s new government will remain in place until general elections, which are set to take place in September next year. Until then, she’s got just over nine months to prove herself to the public.
A former junior swimming champion from the university city of Uppsala, Ms Andersson began her political career in 1996 as political adviser to then-Prime Minister Goran Persson.
She has spent the past seven years as finance minister before becoming leader of the Social Democrats at the start of November.
She replaced Stefan Lofven, who resigned as prime minister after seven years in power.
Until Ms Andersson took over, Mr Lofven had remained prime minister of a caretaker government after being ousted in an unprecedented vote of no confidence in June.
Covid: Europe region faces 700,000 more deaths by March – WHO
bbc– A further 700,000 people could die of Covid by March in Europe and parts of Asia, the World Health Organization has warned.
The death toll already exceeds 1.5 million in the 53 countries of what the WHO terms as its Europe region.
The WHO warned of “high or extreme stress” in intensive care units in 49 of the nations by March 2022.
Europe is facing a surge in cases, prompting Austria to return to lockdown and others to consider fresh measures.
A number of countries – including France, Germany and Greece – could also soon make booster jabs a requirement for their citizens to be considered fully vaccinated.
But several countries have seen fierce protests against new measures. The Netherlands saw several nights of rioting over a partial lockdown.
In its assessment, the WHO warned Covid was the top cause of death in its Europe region.
“Cumulative reported deaths are projected to reach over 2.2 million by spring next year, based on current trends,” the WHO said on Tuesday.
Confirmed Covid-related deaths recently doubled to almost 4,200 a day, it added.
In Russia alone, the daily death toll has been recently topping 1,200.
A high number of unvaccinated people and the prevalence of the Delta variant in some countries were key factors behind high transmission rates in the Europe region, the WHO said.
The WHO Europe director, Dr Hans Kluge, urged those who were still unvaccinated to get the jab.
“All of us have the opportunity and responsibility to help avert unnecessary tragedy and loss of life, and limit further disruption to society and businesses over this winter season,” he said.
As well as European nations, the WHO also considers Israel and ex-Soviet states like Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as making up the region.
Liverpool bomb investigators ‘discovering more by the hour’ says security minister
independent– Security minister Damian Hinds has said counterterrorism police are “discovering more by the hour” about the Liverpool attack, as he suggested it was “not impossible” others could have been involved.
His remarks come after police named the failed bomber who died in the Liverpool Women’s Hospital explosion as 32-year-old Emad al-Swealmeen and the UK’s terror threat was raised to “severe” from “substantial”.
Addressing the situation, Mr Hinds stressed it could be “weeks” before the full picture of the attack is known, including the motivation and whether others were involved.
“It’s a live investigation and the police do have the space, the time, to be able to conduct that investigation fully and carry on their searches of the key address and carry on with the analysis,” he told Times Radio.
He said: “It’s not impossible that there could be other people involved. If that is the case, as the police said in their statement last night, they’ll make arrests quickly.
“I’m not in a position to be able to comment on the background of the individual, the deceased individual or to speculate about the case.”
In a separate interview on Sky News, the minister also said the Covid pandemic and lockdowns may have “exacerbated” the number of people self-radicalising online — an issue previously highlighted by experts.
He said: “It certainly is true that we’ve seen a move over time, a shift from these what we call directed attacks, part of a bigger organisation where people are following instructions, sometimes quite complex in their organisation, and move from that to more self-directed, some self-radicalised individuals or small groups, rarely totally, totally alone.”
He added: “There has been that move. During the lockdown periods there have been more people spending more time in front of computer screens and we know that when that happens for a very small minority, a very very small minority, there can be radicalisation.
“I’m afraid it’s not brand now — radicalisation, self-radicalisation on the internet, the propaganda, the way people make contact with each other, that is not a new development, but like a number of things the changes we saw through the coronavirus period, through lockdown changed the modus operandi and this case yes they will have exacerbated and increased the amount of time people are spending online”.
But he defended the decision to reduce the terror threat in February when quizzed on the issue, saying: “The alert level is determined independently of ministers — it’s not something I determine, or the Home Secretary determines.
“We have a body JTAC — Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre — who are experts in this area. They use the alert level the way that law enforcement, security services and others can calibrate what they are doing.
“We’ve been at a high alert for a very long time now and that’s the important,” he added.
Asked again on why the alert level was changed despite the risk of people becoming radicalised online during the pandemic, he added: “The alert level was substantial, meaning an attack was likely.”
He added: “These are not decisions that I made or ministers mind. We trust professionals and experts in the field. My opinion is that I absolutely trust them to make those correct judgments. “
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