H.R.H. Victoria expert on polar bears?
The ever popular Crown Princess Victoria is adding yet another string to her royal bow. She is currently taking a course at Stockholm University in Polar Environment, according to daily Expressen. The course, which will give the Princess 7.5 high school credits, is part-time – presumably giving her some time for her royal duties and time to spend with Baby Estelle and Daniel – and takes place in the evenings. Victoria already has a Bachelor of Arts degree (“filosofie kandidate” in Swedish) from Uppsala University. Bertil Ternert, Director of the Information and Press Department at the Royal Swedish Court, says that Victoria has been interested in the topic for many years, she visited Greenland a few years ago to be able to study the climate changes there. A trip to the Swedish mountains will conclude the studies for the participants of the course.

Positive attitude to immigrants
Swedes today have a more positive attitude to immigrants compared to nine years ago, when 55% felt Sweden took in too many immigrants. Today, only 37% feel that way, according to a study by Sifo, where 1000 people were polled. Actually the attitude towards immigrants hasn’t been as positive as it is today since 1989. The percentage of Swedes who feel Sweden has accepted immigrants in a moderate fashion has also increased to 48% from 34% in 2004.

More deaths due to the flu
An unusually high number of Swedes are sick with the flu right now, and more will die of the disease, according to Smittskyddsinstitutet (the Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control)). Older people, people who are not vaccinated or those who belong to a risk group are those who are at greatest risk for catching the flu. “The flu activity is very high, but the peak will probably come within the next weeks,” says Hélène Englund, epidemiologist at Smittskyddsinstitutet. Last week, the number of confirmed cases increased quite a lot compared to the week before. At the same time, the calls to the medical advisory service increased, as did the number of searches on flu and flu symptoms at the Vårdguiden (a health care guide). This confirms that many people are ill right now. When the peak is to be expected though, is hard to say. What makes it complicated is that there are three different kinds of virus strains circulating at the same time: B, A (H3), and swine flu. The latter has taken six people’s lives already, out of which five were older and with underlying health issues. How much havoc the other virus types have wreaked is not clear. “Swine flu is a disease you have to report, so we have more information about that one. Influenza type B usually causes a mild disease. A (H3) however, hits in a tougher way, which is why we expect cases of death from it,” says Englund. In order to curb the uncertainty, Socialstyrelsen (the National Board of Health and Welfare) has developed a system to calculate the mortality due to the flu. It shows that it varies a lot, from 40 one season to as many as 2000 the next. The numbers for this season have not yet been collected, but last season (2011/2012) 1000 Swedes lost their lives to the flu. People over age 85 are especially vulnerable; three out of four flu-related death cases hit this group. Calculations also show that children up to age 14 suffer a small, but statistically not significant, mortality due to flu as well.

More young people use drugs
Young Swedes use drug more than ever - this according to the police’s latest, secret mission “Tysta gåsen” (the Silent Goose), which has just wrapped up. During two intense weeks, police reported 85 suspicions against youth under 18 years of age, which is more than ever before. “I’ve worked as a police officer for 20 years, and I raise my eyebrows,” says Andreas Lindfors, project leader at Söderortspolisen. “I’ve never encountered so many youngsters doing drugs before, many of them are under 15, and the youngest was only 13.” It’s the fifth time Mission Gåsen is carried through, its aim is to catch as many cannabis-smoking teens as possible in the southern parts of Stockholm, in order to provide them with early help. This was the first time the mission was secret, however, which is why police refer to it as the “Silent Goose”. “We used to go out in media before, but that gives the young people time to keep away.” Now 35 police offers have worked, aided by tips from schools and private persons, and during only two weeks in January they reported 85 suspicions, compared to 35 during the same period in 2011. 25 previously unknown youngsters are now investigated for peddling. “The results are frightening, or good, depending on how you look at them. If we had the resources, we would do this all the time. We want to discover this as early as possible. I usually say that when young people lack the knowledge to tell what’s good for them, that’s when we must step in,” says Lindfors. Police will now analyze their information and leave it to the Social Services so that the young people can get the help they need.

Swedes handle lung cancer better
Swedes with lung cancer has a higher survival rate than patients in for instance Denmark and Great Britain, according to a study published online by Thorax. Researchers have examined close to 57 000 patients in Australia, Denmark, Canada, Norway, England, and Sweden, and among the Swedish lung cancer patients 46% were still alive a year after the diagnosis, compared to 30% in England, and 34% in Denmark.