Date: Wed, 1 May 2019 23:49:20 +0200

Copenhagen, May 1, 2019 (AFP) - Negotiations have resumed between Scandinavian airline SAS and its striking pilots, a mediator said Wednesday, as hundreds more flights were cancelled due to the strike action which has affected over 380,000 passengers.   It is the first time both sides have sat down together for talks since SAS pilots walked off the job in Sweden, Denmark and Norway on Friday demanding better pay and conditions, though they met prior to the walkout.   "There are discussions underway in Oslo. They concern the three countries," Jan Sjolin, a spokesman for the Swedish National Mediation Office, told AFP.   Despite the resumed negotiations SAS still cancelled flights that had been scheduled for Thursday. 

Around lunchtime on Wednesday the airline announced it was cancelling 280 flights scheduled up to 2:00pm (1200 GMT) Thursday, affecting 20,000 passengers.   Then shortly after 10pm (2000 GMT), with negotiations still going on in Oslo, SAS announced it was cancelling another 429 flights, affecting another 34,590 passengers.    That brings the total of cancelled flights to over 4,000 since the stoppage by 1,409 pilots hit domestic, European and long-haul SAS flights.   "The situation is still very much deadlocked. The parties have not been able to agree," mediator Mats Wilhelm Ruland told media later Wednesday, adding however that both parties had signalled they wished to continue negotiations, Norwegian daily VG reported.

The Swedish Air Line Pilots Association, which initiated the strike, has said that months of previous talks had failed to result in a solution to pilots' "deteriorating work conditions, unpredictable work schedules and job insecurity".   It added that work schedules, not wages, were the SAS pilots' main gripe as most have to work at variable times and days and sometimes several weekends in a row.   After almost going bankrupt in 2012, SAS has implemented repeated savings programmes in recent years to improve its profitability.
Date: Tue, 30 Apr 2019 12:44:44 +0200

Stockholm, April 30, 2019 (AFP) - Scandinavian air carrier SAS said Tuesday it had to cancel another 504 flights on Wednesday, affecting 47,000 passengers, as a pilot strike continued into its fifth day.   Since the start of the strike on Friday some 3,300 departures have been cancelled, affecting a total of almost 327,000 passengers, according to the company.   "I am deeply concerned that the pilot strike hasn't been resolved and that it is continuing to affect our customers," CEO Rickard Gustafson said in a statement.   "The unions have not yet indicated that they are ready to release their ultimate demands and return to the negotiating table, which means that we remain in a deadlock," he added.

Pilots are demanding better pay and work conditions and the Swedish Air Line Pilots Association, which initiated the strike, has said that months of talks had failed to result in a solution to pilots' "deteriorating work conditions, unpredictable work schedules and job insecurity".   As the strike commenced negotiations between the parties broke down and around lunchtime on Tuesday the parties were still not in direct contact.   "The mediators are in contact with the parties, but no negotiations are going on," Bosse Andersson, head of communications for the Swedish National Mediation Office, told AFP.
Date: Sat 27 Apr 2019
Source: Outbreak News Today [edited]

Sweden's Public Health Authority, or Folkhalsomyndigheten, is reporting an outbreak of hepatitis A where the suspected source of infection is fresh dates from Iran. Of the 9 cases reported since late February 2019, 8 are confirmed and have the same type of hepatitis A virus (genotype IIIA); one case is suspected. The cases are between the ages of 28 and 73 years; 5 are men and 4 are women. The cases are from 7 different counties (Orebro, Stockholm, Uppsala, Skane, Sodermanland, Kalmar and Halland). The latest case became ill on 16 Apr 2019. Common to the cases is that they regularly eat fresh dates.

In the 8 confirmed cases, 4 different strains with genotype IIIA have been detected. Two of these are similar to those that caused an outbreak in Denmark in 2018 linked to dates from Iran. In that outbreak, several variants of genotype IIIA strains could be detected in the cases. One of these outbreak strains could also be detected in dates.

Health officials continue the investigation to identify the source of the outbreak.
[This outbreak seems to be related to a specific food vehicle as has been usual in the developed world in the past few decades and is unlike what is occurring in the USA, where large outbreaks of hepatitis A virus are occurring "the old fashion way" related to inadequate sanitation as occurs in the low and middle income countries. - ProMED Mod.LL]

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Date: Wed, 24 Apr 2019 15:27:58 +0200

Stockholm, April 24, 2019 (AFP) - Firefighters in Sweden and Norway were Wednesday trying to contain wildfires which forced hundreds to leave their homes and sparked concern over a repeat of last year's historic forest fires.   A total of 10 fires were of a "serious nature", a Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) spokesman told AFP    Eight helicopters were being used to fight the blazes in the south that were reported to be under control Wednesday afternoon.   "They have them under control", MSB press secretary Marcus Arskog told Swedish news agency TT.   The most severe covered 300 hectares (740 acres) and broke out in the Hassleholm region in southern Sweden, forcing  49 people to evacuate.   Last year a historically hot summer set a total of 25,000 hectares of forest ablaze in Sweden, almost 10 times the yearly average, according to a government study. 

MSB said the exact cause of the spring fires was not known but  believed them to be the result of human activity, either from barbecues or forestry machines.   The sunny and warm spring weather had also made the fire risk unusually high for the season.   "The next few days look really bad," Anneli Bergholm Soder, head of operations at MSB, told a press conference on Wednesday, adding that more humid weather was expected for the weekend which would likely improve the situation.   MSB also said Sweden was much better equipped to deal with the fires this year having taken a number of steps to improve its capacity to respond.   Among the measures were a system with different private contractors, making up to 30 helicopters available for water bombing.   However Brandmannens riksforbund, a union representing firefighters in Sweden, said they were hampered by a lack of workers, and that around 2,800 full  and part-time firefighters were needed for them to remain fully staffed over the summer, TT news agency reported.

In neighbouring Norway, hundreds of hectares of forest were also destroyed by fires between Tuesday and Wednesday.   Local authorities announced they had largely contained the most threatening fire, which covered some 700 hectares in  Norway's south-west around Sokndal.   No injuries were reported. Some 148 homes were evacuated but all residents returned by Wednesday afternoon after 150 firefighters and six helicopters were mobilised.    Norwegian Minister of Public Safety Ingvil Smines Tybring-Gjedde told TV2 she had "learned from the lessons" of the 2018 fires and helicopters and staff would be on constant alert during the summer.
Date: Thu 25 Apr 2019
Source: Food Safety News [edited]

Swedish officials are investigating the source of infection as part of a national outbreak of _Yersinia enterocolitica_. The Public Health Agency (Folkhalsomyndigheten) reported there had been an increase in the number of cases of yersiniosis in the country since the start of March 2019. Since the outbreak strain of _Y. enterocolitica_ type O3 had been found in different parts of the country, it is likely a foodborne infection, added the agency.

A total of 26 cases have been confirmed, and another 30 infections are being investigated. Onset dates for confirmed cases range between 10 Feb 2019 to 3 Apr 2019. There have been no deaths reported, and information on hospitalization is not collected at the national level. Confirmed cases have a median age of 28 years (range 6-62 years old); 60% are women, and they live in different areas from the county of Halland in the south to Vasterbotten in the north.

Infection with _Yersinia_ is relatively rare in Sweden with between 200 and 300 cases reported annually. In 2004 more than 800 were recorded. A spokeswoman for Folkhalsomyndigheten told Food Safety News that cases have been confirmed as belonging to the outbreak, thanks to the use of whole genomic sequencing (WGS).

"When the number of cases increased, a request was sent out to the local clinical microbiological laboratories to send in _Y. enterocolitica_ isolates to the Public Health Agency of Sweden for typing using WGS. WGS could clearly either confirm or exclude cases," she said. "Patients have been interviewed, and most cases have also completed a trawling questionnaire. A case control study is ongoing, and we are also collecting receipts from grocery stores with the hope of finding a common denominator."

"It is too early to say (if the outbreak is over or not) since we still await WGS results from possible cases with more recent onset of disease. The incubation period is 3-7 days, generally under 10 days."

One link being investigated is from sampling during an official food control in Latvia in mid-March 2019, which found _Yersinia_ in snack carrots also sold in Sweden. The batch has already been sold out and is presumed to be no longer available to buy. The raw carrots came from Sweden and were packed in Denmark.

The Folkhalsomyndigheten spokeswoman said the only link to the snack carrots is the timing, and it has no information as yet that several cases ate this type of carrot. The agency is continuing to investigate the source of infection with affected municipalities and the National Food Agency (Livsmedelsverket).

Raw or undercooked meat consumption is often the cause of infection. Direct transmission from other animals such as pets or through contaminated food or drink is also possible. After an incubation period of 3-7 days, symptoms include fever, diarrhoea, and abdominal pain in the right lower part of the abdomen.  [Byline: Joe Whitworth]
[The 2 species of _Yersinia_ associated with food-borne disease are _pseudotuberculosis_ and _enterocolitica_. The latter species can be associated with abdominal pain as a hallmark symptom. As a mesenteric lymphadenitis, yersiniosis can mimic appendicitis but may also cause infections of other sites, such as wounds, joints, and the urinary tract.

As noted in the FDA "Bad Bug Book" <>, "Strains of _Y. enterocolitica_ can be found in meats (pork, beef, lamb, etc.), oysters, fish, and raw milk. The exact cause of the food contamination is unknown. However, the prevalence of this organism in soil, water, and animals, such as beavers, pigs, and squirrels, offers ample opportunities for it to enter our food supply. Poor sanitation and improper sterilization techniques by food handlers, including improper storage, cannot be overlooked as contributing to contamination." Additionally, some strains of these organisms can be associated with blood transfusion-associated illnesses due to an ability to grow at refrigerator temperatures. - ProMED Mod.LL]

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