ANKARA

Sweden on Thursday reported 35 deaths and 6,485 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours.

The total number of cases reached 272,643 and the death toll stands at 7,007, the national health authority announced in a press conference.

State epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said that the country still has a high rate of infections and fatalities and the numbers could increase in the future, according to Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet.

Sweden was one of the few countries that did not introduce strict lockdown measures and instead relied on public recommendations to stem the spread of the virus. But after seeing a new surge of cases, it announced restrictions.

Earlier Thursday, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven announced that high schools will switch to distance learning from Dec. 7 to Jan. 6.

Tegnell urged citizens to shop cautiously around the time of Christmas, avoiding crowded hours and shopping a few days before Christmas.

The Swedish Public Health Agency has also drawn up new regulations regarding a ban on visiting elderly care homes.

Sweden’s COVID-19 vaccination program could begin as early as January.

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