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Madison Czopek
By Madison Czopek May 25, 2022

Sweden isn’t planning monkeypox restrictions like those enforced earlier in the coronavirus pandemic

If Your Time is short

  • As of May 25, Sweden had confirmed one case of monkeypox and the United States has confirmed two cases, according to an organization that tracks infectious disease data.

  • Swedish Health Minister Lena Hallengren said there are no current plans to introduce “limits or restrictions on how we live due to monkeypox,” and discouraged people from likening monkeypox to COVID-19.

Swedish health authorities on May 19 confirmed that someone in the Stockholm region had monkeypox. It was Sweden’s first recorded case amid a recent multi-country outbreak, and within days, claims about the nation’s response to the disease were circulating on social media.

"JUST IN: Swedish health authorities considering introducing restrictions because of monkeypox outbreak," read one such May 22 post. "Here we go again."

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.

With COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations once again on the rise, recent news about monkeypox might, at first glance, appear similar to the earliest days of the coronavirus pandemic.

But is monkeypox the next COVID-19, as the Facebook post implies?

No, according to Sweden’s top health official.

"There is no reason to tie monkeypox to COVID-19 and everything that makes people think of, such as fear of the illness and societal measures to control it," said Health Minister Lena Hallengren, according to a Swedish news report. "There will be no limits or restrictions on how we live due to monkeypox. There are no plans to do that."

Authorities in Sweden still have concerns about the current monkeypox outbreak, however. 

Since May 13, cases of monkeypox have been recorded in countries where the virus is not normally found, including the U.S., Canada and several countries in Europe. The disease is considered rare, and investigations into the confirmed and probable cases of monkeypox are ongoing.

Featured Fact-check

As of early May 25, Sweden had confirmed one case of monkeypox, and the United States had confirmed two cases, according to Global.Health, an organization that tracks infectious disease data. 

Following the country’s first confirmed case, Sweden classified monkeypox as a disease dangerous to public health and one that is subject to mandatory contact tracing, according to the Swedish public health agency’s website and a report from The Local, a Swedish news organization.

Hallengren told Svenska Dagbladet, a daily newspaper published in Stockholm, that monkeypox was given that classification so that those infected would be legally required to report it to authorities, making it easier to track the virus and limit its spread.

Sweden currently classifies a number of other diseases the same way, including avian influenza, chlamydia, cholera, gonorrhea, HIV, rabies and syphilis.

As of May 25, COVID-19 was classified in Sweden as "subject to mandatory contact tracing," but it was not actively classified as "dangerous to public health." Sweden downgraded COVID-19’s classification as of April 1.

Symptoms of monkeypox include a rash, fever, headache, muscle aches and swollen lymph nodes. People who have symptoms of monkeypox and those with whom they’ve had close contact should be aware of unusual rashes or lesions that develop and contact their healthcare provider, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Our ruling

An image on Facebook claimed Swedish health authorities were "considering introducing restrictions because of monkeypox outbreak."

While Sweden took steps to classify monkeypox as dangerous and ensure that cases would be reported for contact tracing purposes, the country’s top health official said there are currently no plans to introduce "limits or restrictions on how we live due to monkeypox."

We rate this claim False.

RELATED: Monkeypox outbreak: What to know about its spread, symptoms and vaccines

Our Sources

BBC, "Monkeypox cases investigated in Europe, US, Canada and Australia," May 19, 2022

The Local, "Sweden registers first confirmed case of monkeypox," May 19, 2022

The Local, "Swedish minister: Monkeypox ‘will not need Covid-19-style measures,’" May 23, 2022

The Public Health Agency of Sweden, "Notifiable diseases," accessed May 23, 2022

The Local, "End of the pandemic? What the expiry of Sweden’s Covid laws really means," April 1, 2022

Svenska Dagbladet, "Monkeypox is classified as a general dangerous disease," May 20, 2022

Interesting Engineering, "​​Sweden, Denmark and Norway lift COVID-19 restrictions, the WHO warns it's too soon," Feb. 13, 2022

Regeringskansliet, "Change in the classification of covid-19 in the Infection Control Act," Feb. 9, 2022

World Health Organization, "Multi-country monkeypox outbreak in non-endemic countries," May 21, 2022

ABC News, "Florida health officials investigating 3rd possible monkeypox case in US," May 22, 2022

New York Times, "What to Know About Monkeypox," May 23, 2022

CNBC, "Monkeypox is spreading around the world. What is the disease and how dangerous is it?" May 20, 2022

CNBC, "CDC recommends Pfizer booster shot for kids ages 5 to 11 as Covid cases rise across the U.S.," May 19, 2022

Regeringskansliets "​​Infection with smallpox virus is classified as a general dangerous disease," May 20, 2022

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "CDC and Health Partners Responding to Monkeypox Case in the U.S.," May 18, 2022

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Signs and Symptoms," accessed May 23, 2022

European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, "Epidemiological update: Monkeypox outbreak," May 20, 2022

NBC News, "Map: Monkeypox confirmed in 16 countries," May 23, 2022

Global.health, "​​Monkeypox Tracker," accessed May 24, 2022

United Nations Geneva Multimedia Newsroom, "Bi-Weekly Press Briefing 24 May 2022," May 24, 2022

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Sweden isn’t planning monkeypox restrictions like those enforced earlier in the coronavirus pandemic

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