Furloughed crew from crisis-hit Scandinavian airline SAS are taking a three-day course in basic hospital duties to help plug gaps in a Swedish healthcare system strained by thousands of coronavirus cases.
The airline, part owned by the governments of Sweden and Denmark, temporarily laid off 10,000 staff – 90 per cent of its workforce – this month to cut costs and ride out a plunge in air travel due the pandemic and related border closures.
With Stockholm’s health-care system in need of reinforcement as cases rise, Sophiahemmet University Hospital is teaching former cabin crew skills such as sterilising equipment, making hospital beds and providing information to patients and their relatives.
The first students are due to complete the course on Thursday and the response has been overwhelming.
Sweden has around 4,500 confirmed cases of the virus and 180 deaths, with the capital especially hard hit.
Health-care officials in Stockholm have scrambled to set up a temporary hospital in a convention centre and warned of a lack off staff and safety equipment to meet the crisis.