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71 people over the age of 70 live in cramped rooms– high risk of being infected by corona

In Kristianstad municipality there are 71 people over 70 who run a high risk of being infected by the new corona virus, it is hard for them to isolate themselves. They live close together with younger people, in an area of less than 20 square metres per person. This according to a study from Stockholm University.
Kristianstad • Publicerad 17 april 2020
71 people over the age of 70 live in cramped conditions in Gamlegården, Charlottesborg and Österäng.
71 people over the age of 70 live in cramped conditions in Gamlegården, Charlottesborg and Österäng.Foto: Lasse Ottosson

Folkhälsomyndigheten (the Swedish Public Health Agency) repeats over and over again that everyone over 70 should isolate themselves, stay at home and avoid meeting other people. But some of the over-70s live with younger people – and in close contact with them.

Professor Bo Malmberg from Stockholm University has published a survey of how the elderly live in Sweden.

In Kristianstad municipality alone there are in all 71 people over 70 who are in the the highest risk-group. They live at Gamlegården, Österäng and Charlottesborg. In Hässleholm there are 57 people, in Östra Göinge 6 and in Osby municipality 5.

”We have nowhere else for them to live. We’ve discussed it in the municipality’s crisis team”
Charlotte Nygren-Bonnier, head of the employment and welfare department

Kb Mosaik has tried to get answers to more questions from Smittskydd Skåne (Disease Control Skåne) and Folkhälsomyndigheten about overcrowding – how the over-70s can isolate themselves when they live in overcrowded flats along with younger people.

Smittskydd Skåne is unwilling to give an answer and refers us to other authorities.

– It is municipalities and local districts that can make decisions on what to do to reduce overcrowding in the short run, as has been done in the Järva area, is the answer we get from Sara Rörbecker, general secretary for Folkhälsomyndigheten.

– Folkhälsomyndigheten and not least the Disease Control doctors in the regions can give the municipalities support regarding this type of decision, but there are no written recommendations which are applicable in the same way for everyone and in all situations, she writes.

Rinkeby-Kista, which includes Järva, is the district in Stockholm that has been hardest hit by the corona virus. Now there is a chance for people there who are living too close together to find short-term accomodation. This is done by applying to the municipality for support.

– Then they can fix accomodation, either for elderly people in a risk-group, who will also get a home-help, or organise accomodation for the rest of the family, says Benjamin Dousa (M) to Dagens Nyheter.

Kristianstad municipality has studied the survey of overcrowding among the elderly.

Charlotte Nygren-Bonnier.
Charlotte Nygren-Bonnier.Foto: Karl-Magnus Lundvall

– We are aware of it, we are following Folkhälsomyndigheten’s recommendations. It’s all about providing information in different ways, through different channels and in different languages, says Charlotte Nygren-Bonnier, head of the employment and welfare department.

Is it possible for people living in overcrowded homes to isolate themselves?

– No, I can’t see how one room can be closed off. That’s hard to do. We have nowhere else for them to live. We’ve discussed it in the municipality’s crisis team. We’re in contact with different organisations and the regional administration as regards what action we should take, and the county administrative board has referred to Region Skåne.

– There is an individual responsibility. How should I think to prevent spreading the disease, and what can I do to to change my situation.

– If individuals turn to us and ask for help and support, we examine the case. That’s how it might be in a family, I imagine – do we want to go on living together or are they trying to split us up? That’s when they must ask us about extra economic support.

Is there accomodation to which people can be evacuated/transferred? in case of infection?

– We don’t have many homes. We have a plan for what to do if the infection reaches one of the homes for unaccompanied young people, for example. In that case we can transfer the residents to another home. We must also raise the question of co-ordination in the whole municipality. We must make an external analysis and see how we can co-operate on that basis.


Risk accommodation

Bo Malmberg, Professor of Human Geography at Stockholm University has mapped people over the age of 70 in Sweden, if they live in a household that increases the risk of being infected by covid-19.

The mapping is based on statistics from SCB, whether the elderly live in a villa or an apartment, how many people live in the same household and how old they are.

Malmberg has divided them into eight risk groups, with 7 being the highest risk.

71 per cent of people aged 70 years and older live in a one or two-person household with someone over the age of 60. The risk of getting infected is low.

In risk classes 6 and 7 there are 55,118 persons over the age of 70. Here the risk of the infection spreading is greater – more people live together and old people live with younger people.

In the highest risk class there are 12,087 people. They live together with several others and in cramped conditions with less than 20 square metres per person.

The mapping is based on SCB’s statistics from December 31st, 2017.

Inga-Lill BengtssonSkicka e-post
Så här jobbar Mosaik Kristianstadsbladet med journalistik. Uppgifter som publiceras ska vara korrekta och relevanta. Vi strävar efter förstahandskällor och att vara på plats där det händer. Trovärdighet och opartiskhet är centrala värden för vår nyhetsjournalistik.