Sweden's coronavirus cases keep rising, but official says it is not a second wave

STOCKHOLM, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Sweden reported 1,075 new coronavirus cases on Thursday but the country’s top epidemiologist said a recent rise in new infections was not the sign of a second wave.

Sweden, which has shunned lockdowns, leaving most schools, restaurants and businesses open throughout the pandemic, has seen the number of new cases trending higher since early September.

Many European countries are re-introducing restrictions to prevent the COVID-19 spread after a spike in transmissions. State Epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said countries like the Netherlands, France and Spain were experiencing a second wave but this was not the case in Sweden.

“That would take a rather substantial spread in large parts of society that we are not at all seeing in Sweden,” he told reporters, adding however that the recent increase in cases needed to be taken “very seriously”.

The total of new infections reported by the Health Agency on Thursday includes a number of cases that had not been included in previous days’ counts.

Sweden reported 3 new deaths on Thursday, taking the total number of COVID-19 deaths to 5,910. In terms of the overall population, that rate is several times higher than Nordic neighbours, but lower than countries like Spain, Italy and Britain that opted for lockdowns. (Reporting by Helena Soderpalm Editing by Simon Johnson and Frances Kerry)